School Offers ‘Second Chance’

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK There is a growing demand for extra school tutoring classes in core subjects such as mathematics, accounting and English, among secondary school learners. This became clear during a New Era interview with Iona van der Merwe, educational training manager of the Michelle McLean Children Trust in the capital. More than 76 learners last year attended these complementary classes for learners. “We have learners from Government as well as private schools attending these popular afternoon classes, which are daily presented by experienced teachers with track records of good results. With the growing demand for these classes, we expect more than 200 learners to enrol for this year especially in view of the fact that we have also added English as a core subject,” said Van der Merwe. It is general educational knowledge that the yearly poor results, particularly in Grades 10 and 12, can be directly ascribed to English as a medium of instruction in Namibian schools and the chronic shortage of English teachers. “Our students are basically given a second chance to sharpen and enhance their knowledge in these subjects. Some learners find it difficult to keep track with the learning pace in schools. With these extra classes, we offer learners the opportunity to enhance their chances in these subjects, since last year. It started as an experiment, but now interest for the classes is daily growing,” Van der Merwe, whose husband, Andre, is the training coordinator of the pro-gramme, said. According to her, the classes are being presented not to oppose the government education system, but to complement the system. “We work very closely with the Ministry of Education with this particular programme as part of the School of Excellence’s “Et Cetera’ part-time classes programme, recognized by the educational authorities. In fact, the Ministry of Education formally acknowledges our efforts. It’s a fact that with overcrowded classes in our schools of up to 45 learners, very little individual attention can be given to each learner. We provide those opportunities as far as possible,” she said. Van der Merwe also stated that her trust’s cooperation with the educational authorities goes way beyond learner support services. “For the past six years, we are involved in training of trainers in entrepreneurial skills, finances as well as early childhood training, something not yet implemented in the government education system. We are optimistic that this very vital sub-section of education will be implemented in the near future. We are already training teachers for this,” she said. Fees for the extra classes are N$200 per subject per month or four hours per subject. Learners interested to enhance their learning skills can contact Iona van der Merwe at telephone 240807/9.