Mmegi Online :: The challenges of accommodation for students
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Last Updated
Monday 24 September 2018, 18:00 pm.
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The challenges of accommodation for students

FRANCISTOWN: It was a bittersweet experience for some parents whose children were admitted at Francistown Senior Secondary School (FSSS) as Form Fours.
By Staff Writer Tue 25 Sep 2018, 10:05 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: The challenges of accommodation for students








Their children would be attending senior school. Every parent would be excited about that. For them, that excitement was overshadowed by the fact that there was no accommodation readily available for their children.

When the new arrivals opened school last week Tuesday, some parents came carrying their children’s luggage, although they had not yet established where they would be staying.

“I’m from Mapoka village and my orphaned granddaughter has been admitted here, but there is nobody I know in town who can stay with her. I also don’t know any of the locations here,” said a woman who was sitting beside a big bag containing the girl’s belongings.

The woman who preferred not to be identified appeared to be in her early 60s. The woman who did not look as if she had had it easy, would have to find a house for her granddaughter, pay rent, buy food as well as toiletry.

She is long past employable age and would not be able to afford to pay for all her granddaughter’s needs. She was right in front of the deputy school head’s office waiting to get in and talk about accommodation. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do to help. Students from Batanani JSS (Mapoka) are normally admitted at Masunga Senior Secondary School, which has boarding facilities.

The woman’s sad tale was for the better part of the day repeated by more and more parents some from as far as Tsetsebjwe. They wanted their children to be taken to senior schools with boarding facilities or the ones nearer to their villages.

Later in the day, there was a sigh of relief from parents whose children were from the Chobe region and villages such as Maitengwe, Nkange, Borolong, Chadibe and many others as a Savingram from the Department of Secondary Education called for their admissions to be re-directed to Mater Spei College, McConnel College and Shashe River School.

All these schools have boarding facilities. This, thankfully, saved them the frustration of looking for accommodation. Those whose children were from Zwenshambe JSS, Batanani JSS, Thamani JSS, Shanganani JSS, Tonota JSS and Lethabile JSS were not so lucky. They still had to go through the rigours of looking for alternative accommodation.

With the introduction of the double shift

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in 2006, the school’s student catchment areas widened. Students who do not have relatives in Francistown end up staying alone in rented houses.

Mmegi is reliably informed that most of these students are from poverty-stricken families that often find it difficult to adequately provide for them. This often leaves them dangerously vulnerable to resorting to indecent ways of fending for themselves. Sources close to the school disclosed that some of the boys turn to stealing not only outside school, but inside as well. That is why the school is synonymous with police visits. For girls, it is getting into relationships with working men. In many instances they will be eyeing their pockets. The guidance and counselling department in the school worriedly revealed that last year alone, 34 girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy.  According to sources in the department, most of these students were either staying alone, are orphans or were coming from needy families. The girls were all impregnated by working men.

At the FSSS, acting school head, Watson Basoli admits that some of his students are renting accommodation in town and not living with their parents or legal guardians.

“It has in the past given us problems (students renting out accommodation on their own) as we literally ended up baby-sitting some of these students,” Basoli declares. He is worried about the way some parents just drop their children in town, pay their rentals and then disappear. For instance, he says, with children who get assistance from the councils, their parents “leave them on their own believing that the council will provide everything for them.”

Basoli believes that the “welfare of the children should be discussed with the parents and not just the children. Our experience shows that some parents have reneged the welfare of their children.” He adds that with the FSSS catchment area including areas such as Zwenshambe, Maitengwe, et al, the Ministry of Education has done its very best by re-directing admissions of some of those that were admitted at the FSSS, which has no boarding facility, to senior schools with boarding facilities due to accommodation constraints at the FSSS.

Those whose parents rent accommodation for them in town are in the minority, qualifies Basoli.

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