Ghost chasing not allowed at Oshigambo High

Martin Endjala

The Oshigambo High School in the Oshikoto Region will not tolerate a student who violates other students’ rights by waking them up at night to chase illusional ghosts around the school hostel.

The school principal, Pinehas Ekongo, said this following recent accusations of religious discrimination, segregation, and psychosocial torture against the learners at the school by the Body of Christ Party of Namibia (BCP), a faith-based political organisation’s president, Bishop Festus Thomas.

“To the best of my knowledge, no parent has ever pledged to send us a learner – a pastor – to chase around ghosts at the school. If the parents did not set up this agreement during the learner’s admission or include it in their signed agreements, then the school could restrict such a religious practice at any stage of the learner’s relationship with the school,” he said.

Ekongo directed Thomas to stay out of the school’s affairs and seek an understanding of ELCIN principles, values, and norms.

“He must further explore the school’s rules, coupled with contractual obligations signed between the school and the parents. I can only imagine the amount of stress the poor bishop is experiencing during this campaign period, leading him to politicise insignificant issues in an attempt to garner votes. However, it is a lifelong learning obligation to first seek understanding of the matter at hand before making unfounded allegations,” Ekongo said.

He explained that the school has for many years housed many students from multiple religious denominations, such as Christians, Muslims, and Hindus.

This, he said, was done in harmony with the guidelines set by ELCIN.

On legal matters, Ekongo indicated that it is the right of every individual to approach the court of law to seek justice on any matter.

“We have been following with interest all the developments pertaining to Bishop Thomas’s allegations, and we may assume where they are headed. We are always prepared for anything coming our way. Let them go to court,” he said.

The BCP president called for the learners to be allowed to freely practice their religion without fear of intimidation, as outlined in the Education Act of 2021.

“We are aware of political turmoil between the secular state without religion in Namibia, which unleashed endless religious discrimination against the rights and dignity of the moral fabric of all through the institution of the state, not limited to the rights and dignity of 95% of Christians over the period of 34 years,” he said.

Thomas said that the actions of the principal are a violation of Articles 20 and 21 of the constitution, read with the Education Act No. 16 of 2021 and the international treaty Article 18 on religious rights and dignity.

In a letter to the Oshikoto Regional Education Director, Aletta Eises, Thomas called for an intervention into the matter.

In the letter he demanded that the principal and the school board members recognise the learner’s rights, freedom to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private.

Thomas also wants the school to observe, practice, and teach his religion.

He threatens to take legal action on behalf of the learners if the director fails to act.

“We implore you to apply the standards of the central government’s good governance and anti-corruption policies in this matter. We also demand that both the school board and principal pronounce themselves on the matter,” Thomas wrote.

He said that based on the evidence provided, it is clear that incitement of religious conflict has been committed in an independent Namibia.

Eises said the regional authority acknowledges the concerns raised and is reassured that the matter is receiving attention from the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture.

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