FOCUS ON: Mariental Primary School

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Rural School Educates to Empower By Hoandi !Gaeb MARIENTAL “Although the Mariental Primary School, as it is known today, is operating under very difficult circumstances due to poverty, we try very hard to relentlessly pursue and achieve social upliftment for our community through education.” That’s the opinion of Daniel Apollus, headmaster of one of the oldest schools in the Hardap Region, in an interview with New Era recently. Apollus says the Mariental Primary School is playing a vital role in the improving of living standards of not only the pupils enrolled at the school, but also the community at large. The school was established about 40 years ago with its first principal the well-known Nama poet, teacher and pastor, Willem Jod. The church communities in the previous dispensation played a leading role in the education of children for decades. Therefore, every church established schools and maintained them. Subsequently, the then government started taking over the mission schools in the region and the Mariental Primary School was also taken over and incorporated into the then Second Tier Nama Education Authority. Enough office buildings and classrooms were built, while the curriculum was expanded from Sub A to Standard Eight. The new school was officially inaugurated by the then Administrator General of Namibia. Judge M.T. Steyn in 1979. At the same occasion the first headmaster, Willem M. Jod was promoted to the position of Subject Advisor of Schools and was replaced by August Mungunda, today the Regional Director of Education in the Karas Region. Two other principals, namely, Eddie Mensah and Willem Stefanus, were also at the helm of the school before the present headmaster, Daniel Apollus took over at the beginning of 1988. Apollus obtained his first teacher qualification at the Dower College in the Eastern Cape in 1975. Ever since, the soft-spoken headmaster never looked back and was later rewarded with his BA degree through UNISA and a fourth year teacher qualification through the Windhoek College of Education. He is married to Francois, also a qualified teacher at the same school and the couple have four children. At the moment the school caters for 573 pupils with 16 teachers, one secretary, three cleaners and one caretaker. “Our Motto: Educate to Empower,” says it all, says Apollus. “We are aware of the shortcomings in our community. But we are dealing with our problems with faith and determination.” According to Apollus, discipline at the Mariental Primary School is very good, while the school has declared zero-tolerance for teenage pregnancies and teacher absenteeism. Apollus called on all major companies to become partners in education adding that his school is in dire need of material and other assistance in order to see the 573 children at the school “through the drought”. We managed to acquire a digital copy machine and a photo machine which we pay off in instalments. “We will appreciate it if some good Samaritan could help us with the instalments,” he says. In the short term we want to introduce computer literacy classes, improve reading and writing skills, improve the pass rate and to assist the general parent community to eradicate illiteracy amongst themselves and become actively involved in their children’s education. The school is also proud of having an Aids club, consisting of teachers and pupils who acquire information pertaining to the deadly virus on a regular basis and pass it on to the rest of the school community. “We are in the process of establishing a library and would like the Namibian community at large to donate books and other materials to the school,” he says. Interested parties can contact Apollus at telephone (063) 240881, fax (063) 242278 or send donations to P.0. Box 270, Mariental.

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