Pitching up just in time


Tents for classrooms for overcrowded Matlapana Primary

Suffering from a crippling shortage of classrooms, Matlapana Primary School received some much-needed temporary relief last Thursday as Elephant Haven came trumpeting to the rescue.

The non-governmental organisation, which takes care of orphan elephants from the Okavango Delta, donated two canvas tents to the severely overcrowded school, whose student population currently sits at 1, 050 pupils – 250 more than it was built to accommodate.

According to the Headteacher, Keabonye Maoto, currently Matlapana has 20 classrooms against 36 classes.

“This has forced us into shifts but we do not like it because it gives teacher and learners less contact time of at most four hours,” admitted Maoto.

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The school head made an impassioned plea for further help, noting they need to build additional shelter for the 16 classes to improve learning at the school.

“The space is there, for portacabins, tents, or pole shelters, whatever that can work to make a classroom, we are in need of it,” said Maoto.

Pitching up just in time
RELIEF FROM THE RAIN: Tented classroom

Speaking at last week’s official handover, Area Councillor, Kobamelo Baikgodisi revealed that as leaders of the ward, they joined hands with the school and approached companies operating in Maun for donations.

Fortunately, Elephant Haven offered a helping hand, although Baikgodisi stressed it was just the tip of the iceberg of what was needed.

“The situation is bad because this means 16 classes have to be conducted outside in the open space,” he stated, adding it’s even worse in the rainy season when it’s too wet to conduct lessons outdoors.

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“When it rains they take cover inside the classrooms and this means learning stops at that time,” he said.

Built to accommodate around 800 learners, Matlapana has experienced an overload for years due to the lack of schools in the area.

“We are talking about learners who walk here from other settlements besides Matlapana ward. They come from as far as Boro, Sexaxa, Boronyane and Senonnori and Matlapana is growing because of new land allocations by the land board,” explained the councillor.

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Calling for a new school in the neighborhood, Baikgodisi added, “It is a difficult situation and we really need another school because of new land allocations. Thousands of them are done in this area and as families move into their new homes they need schools near them to cut costs on transport.”

In nearby Sedie ward, Baikgodisi says the situation at Mathiba Primary School is just as bad, with the institution currently having 1, 300 learners enrolled.

The situation should be eased slightly by next year, with a primary school set to be constructed in neighboring Senonnori ward in the up-coming financial year. Another two-classroom satellite school is also being built in Boro for standard one and two learners.

Pitching up just in time
LONG WALK FOR EDUCATION: Boro students treking to Matlapana Primary School

However, Baikgodisi fears this will not ease the load for either Matlapana or Mathiba primaries due to the rapidly growing Matlapana population.

“We are going to need another primary school especially in the new stances in Matlapana because that is where the population is growing and very fast,” he warned.

“We are hoping that Sexaxa school will gradually be built into a fully fledged primary school as it will help a lot in this dilemma we are in,” concluded Baikgodisi.

Sexaxa currently has a two-classroom school for lower primary, donated by an NGO two years ago, but as learners elevate to higher classes they find themselves having to seek vacancies at the already crowded schools.

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