Life in School Hostels

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The public’s image of boarding schools as a place of lots of bullying and other related bad behaviour has prompted a non-governmental organisation to engage in a project that is aimed at changing this perception. Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO) last week launched the monologue, “Life in School Hostels” to create awareness and help boarding learners to understand the need for good behaviour. According to OYO director Philippe Talavera, since the establishment of the organisation four years ago, it has been engaged in HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns. “We are using art to create awareness and currently, we are active in regions such as Erongo and Kunene where most learners are in boarding schools.” Talavera says most boarding schools are beset with problems of drinking of alcohol, smoking, teenage pregnancies and other mischievous behaviour. As an organisation interested in the welfare of teenagers, this year it decided to focus on how best these problems could be tackled. Using monologues as a tool, last week OYO started with these activities that involve learners performing drama that portrays what is currently happening in schools and at the same time sending a message across as to how society expects such learners to behave. Last year, OYO visited different schools and collected 34 stories from learners about boarding life. “Some stories were positive and others negative,” said Talavera. The organisation identified five youngsters who could perform the monologues and held a workshop on script writing. Two monologues were created and were presented at four schools in Windhoek. According to the education officer in the Ministry of Education Godfrey Kambato, because learners living in school hostels grow with relatively little supervision, they are often confronted with problems of early pregnancy, physical abuse, bullying and drug abuse. Boarding schools have matrons entrusted to play a parental role in hostels but this is not enough, lamented the education officer. With HIV/AIDS being a critical public health issue, the organisation in its projects incorporates HIV/AIDS related awareness activities. School hostels are full of love stories and their related drama especially for learners in rural Namibia where dating has become a cure for their boredom. “The monologues are raising issues that affect learners living in school hostels. They are aimed at raising discussion. It is the hope of Ombetja Yehinga Organisation that after watching the monologues learners and hostel staff will reflect on problems happening in the hostels and possible solutions be found,” he stated. The organisation together with the ministry of education would compile a report on lessons learnt at the end of the project. Schools in the Erongo and Kunene regions would be visited and about 3 000 learners living in school hostels are expected to see the performances.

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