Bullying Main Cause of School Dropouts in Namibia

BULLYING, sexual harassment and rape are some of the leading causes of school drop-outs in Namibia.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) country representative Micaela Marques de Sousa said 41% of the community- based organisations which responded in a qualitative survey gave these reasons as some of the causes for pupils dropping out of school.

De Sousa was citing findings from an out-of-school study the education ministry conducted in collaboration with Unicef and the Unesco Institute for Statistics in 2015.

The report, which is based on an analysis of data from the 2011 census, shows that 103 768 children were not in school in 2011.

Of this number, 13 082 were at pre-primary; 36 084 at primary school; 25 308 at junior secondary; and 29 294 at senior secondary level.

The study also shows that 99 200 pupils in primary, junior secondary and senior secondary school levels were at risk of dropping out of school, while 16 out of 99 out-of-school adolescents interviewed said they had dropped out of school because they had fallen pregnant.

De Sousa said parents, children and community-based organisations reported that in some cases, children are unlikely to attend school as basic needs such as food and clothing had not been met.

“We sincerely hope that the completion of the Out-of-School Initiative National Report for Namibia will significantly bring us closer to the desirable goal of no child (should be) left behind,” she stated.

The education ministry will hold a two-day out-of-school children conference in Windhoek on 23 and 24 June.

Sanet Steenkamp, education permanent secretary, yesterday told The Namibian that the study findings will be interrogated at that conference. The idea is to have stakeholders examine and find solutions from the study recommendations.

“Although we have made progress in ensuring education for all, we still face challenges such as keeping children in schools,” she stated.

Steenkamp said the ministry is also looking at how to handle HIV positive children in the system, and what they can put in place to make life easier for them.

Education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said the factors which may push children out of school or put them more at risk of never attending classes again will be the focus during the conference with the hope to improving the situation.

A presentation from the youth is also expected at the conference as part of finding solutions and planning for the implementation of recommendations.

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