Pupils register for school with health passports
2017-06-09 – The Namibian
EDUCATION permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp yesterday said some schools were registering children who only had baptism certificates or health passports to ensure that they are not left out.
It is government policy that children must have a birth certificate to register for school, but in certain circumstances exceptions have been made.
The Namibian found out during a visit to Ovitoto recently that some children do not have birth certificates, and some schools accepted them on the basis of health passports or baptism certificates.
Some parents from the Okandjira settlement complained that their children were deprived of various services due to a lack of national documents.
They said the biggest hurdle they experienced when applying for birth certificates for their children was providing information about the absent fathers of the children.
Undja Kaandjo (38), a resident of Okandjira, said she has six children, one of whom was registered for school using a health passport.
She said getting a birth certificate for her child has been difficult because his father is in prison.
Kaandjo added that the lack of documents has also made it difficult for her other children to get government social grants.
Another villager, Beverly Tjombe (25), who is the mother of three children, said she encountered a similar problem as two of her children are orphans, while the third was fathered by an Angolan, who left the country.
“I once thought of getting my father to sign the documents in the place of the child’s father so he could get a grant, because things are so difficult for us,” she lamented.
Omatako councillor Israel Hukurua said he knows of children who have been trying to get social grants from the gender ministry, but did not have the correct documents.
“Some parents do not even have ID cards themselves, which makes things even more difficult. These problems have been raised with the relevant authorities,” he stressed.
Otjozondjupa education director Simon Tsuseb said he is not aware of instances where children have been registered with baptism certificates or health passports.
“Parents must have birth certificates to register their children, and that is the official policy,” he said, adding that in other cases, there could be exceptions.
Steenkamp said schools were accepting other documents to avoid having children unnecessarily deprived of education.
“We can register with a baptism certificate or a letter from the headman so that the child is not deprived of education,” she explained.
Steenkamp said parents should ensure their children have documents by the time they reach high school.
“Only children who are older than nine years would require special permission from the permanent secretary to attend school,” she said.
Home affairs spokesperson Sakeus Kadhikwa said the parents can get their children national documents even without the details of the fathers.
“We do not send people back just because of that, and those fathers in prison can write declarations that they are the fathers,” he stated.
Kadhikwa said the ministry’s outreach programme through mobile teams has been greatly affected by budgetary constraints, but they do have teams in the regions to disseminate information to educate people.
Earlier this year, home affairs launched the e-birth notification system, which is a collaboration between the health and home affairs ministries, allowing new births to be registered sooner.