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Rural school grapples with abject poverty

SCHOOL HEAD PLEADS FOR ETSHA 6 SCHOOL TO BE ADOPTED

“When you see a student with his shirt hanging out of his trousers in the school corridors, you have to be very careful where you make him tuck it in because you may do so and find out that he was in fact covering holes on the back of his trousers or even a broken zipper.”

This warning was issued by Guidance and Counselling teacher, Olebogeng Saokonga at Etsha Junior Secondary School in Etsha 6 in the North West District at the occasion of handing over of a donation of sanitary pads, bathing and washing soaps, tooth pastes and roll-ons to the students by Ask Rakgadi, a non-governmental organisation from Maun.

Saokonga who is also an acting senior teacher explained that the state of poverty in the district was so severe that there were still secondary school students who came to school bare footed because they do not even have a pair of flip flops to wear.

In some cases a student would have one shirt, which he would have to wash at night so he could wear it again in the morning to school, Saokonga explained.

SCHOOL HEAD: Tjetjoo Tjetjoo

Apparently, so desperate is the situation that some female students are forced to cut mattress pieces in hostels and use them as a substitute for sanitary pads and toilet paper.

“The girls use them as sanitary pads and the boys use them as toilet paper when nature calls. This is because we do not provide them with free toilet paper due to insufficient funds,” explained deputy school head, Wazime Qhamaya.

Etsha is a boarding school with a catchment area for neighbouring villages that include Xanxana, as well as Etsha 2 to Etsha 5. It has around 500 boarding students who, according to the school head can use mattresses in a matter of few months and end up sleeping sleep on bunk beds with no mattresses.

The school has 930 students but Qhamaya said that on average about 13 students drop out of school every year due to poverty related issues.

“They get frustrated by poverty and leave. We do beg them to stay and even make follow-ups with their parents but they refuse to return. Most of them cite poverty as the main cause of their leaving,” said Qhamaya.

DEPUTY: Wazime Qhamaya

Speaking at the same occasion, the school head, Tjetjoo Tjetjoo said despite the poverty, Etsha students were generally well behaved and those who were better off did not engage in bullying others.

Tjetjoo called on the private sector and individuals to adopt their school to help government meet some of the student’s dire needs.

“No corporation has ever adopted this school but it has a very high number of needy and underprivileged students who could really appreciate donations from the private sector,” Tjetjoo said.

“This is the second donation to this school since I was transferred here in 2016. We plead with any good Samaritans out there to adopt us,” Tjetjoo said.

The school head Tjetjoo Tjetjoo said despite the poverty, Etsha students were generally well behaved and do not taunt each other over their needy state.

Tjetjoo therefore called on the private sector and individuals to adopt their school so as to help government with student’s needs.

“This school has never been adopted but it has a very high number of needy students and we rarely receive donations.” Tjetjoo said.

TEACHER: Olebogeng Saokonga

He was in fact welcoming a donation by Ask Rakgadi, a non-governmental organisation based in Maun, which were donating sanitary pads, bathing and washing soaps, tooth pastes and roll-ons to the students.

“This is the second donation to this school since I was transferred here in 2016. We plead to be adopted,” Tjetjoo pleaded.

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