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School CP - March 1998

Corpun file 5953

The Namibian, Windhoek, 17 March 1998

Pupils protest of [sic] 'mistreatment'

By Absalom Shigwedha

ABOUT 60 pupils from the Baumgartsbrunn Private Junior Secondary School outside the capital yesterday marched 35 kilometres to the office of the Namibian National Students Organisation, complaining that they were being mistreated.

The biggest complaint by the pupils was that they were not given enough to eat. They said they did not receive a balanced diet and had to eat porridge, mealie-meal and rice most days. "We want fruits and vegetables. We only eat meat on Sundays and Wednesdays," said the pupils.

They also complained that some food was past its 'sell-by' date and contained dead insects.

"How can one eat expired food. They are not treating us like human beings," said one pupil angrily.

The pupils had taken their problems to the headmistress who had promised that she would look into them. However, the pupils said, "Nothing had happened."

The pupils alleged that there were other problems at the school including teachers who were rude, especially to female pupils. Some teachers were accused of kicking pupils who were experiencing menstrual periods.

"The owner of the school has told the hostel father that students who are not happy with the school rules can go home," said the learners.

Despite the fact that corporal punishment has been abolished in Namibia, the pupils accused the school of having a 'jail' where those who broke school rules were taken to be flogged and locked up for several hours.

The angry pupils had jumped over the school fence because the gates were locked and walked to Windhoek.

"We have not eaten anything today and we are very hungry now," said one. They have vowed not to go back to the school unless there were changes. Most of the pupils come from Windhoek..

Nanso information secretary, Tobias Iyambo said he had spoken to the headmistress of the school who said she was not aware of such problems in the school.

"Nanso condemns the way in which students are treated in this school," said Iyambo, adding that this sort of behaviour showed that there were still people with a colonial hangover.

"I think the government should consider withdrawing their subsidies to this school. Students have the right to air their views," he said.

"You cannot just give them whatever you want. They need decent food. They are not animals. If this continues, we will go back to the 1980s and call a national school boycott," he added

The Baumgartsbrunn school has about 425 pupils.

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