By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Local business and some school principals in the capital were last Monday heavily criticized for their apathy and aloofness towards an important educational exchange programme between Namibia and Finland. Dennis Fredericks, principal of David Bezuidenhout Secondary School and chief organizer of the 10-day summer camp exchange, did not mince his words at the official opening. “I am very disappointed in the reaction from some of my colleagues as educational leaders for not even turning up at the official opening here today. The same applies to the business sector for not supporting this important exchange between the young people of our two countries,” Fredericks said. According to him, the organizing committee had written more than 60 letters asking the business fraternity in the capital for financial support, but to no avail. “We see this programme, started in 2003, as a life-changing experience for both Namibian and Finnish learners. It is aimed at understanding the values and cultures of our respective communities on an international level. Through this event learners get a deeper understanding of themselves and other peoples and cultures,” he said. The programme is to be extended next year to accommodate Botswana, Angola and South Africa. “This year it was Namibia’s turn to finance the programme, but we did not have the necessary funding. Thanks to the ministries of Education and Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, we could proceed,” Fredericks told those present at the opening of the programme, which caters for many educational and cultural activities. The Khomas regional director of education, Claudia Tjikuuo, applauded the exchange programme as having an impact on Namibian and Finnish learners as future leaders of their respective countries. “The world has become a global village of which Namibia is a part, taking into account the fact that this nation comes from a history of almost100 years in isolation. This camp offers learners of both countries an opportunity for people to live in harmony, even if it is only for ten days. Intrinsically the programme has important values to help achieve our Vision 2030 goals,” Tjikuuo said in wishing the 24 participants well. Seija Kinni, the ChargÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© d’ Affaires of the Finnish embassy, praised Namibia’s consistent and ongoing involvement in the education exchange programme. “It is indeed a life-changing and eye-opening experience for both the youth of Namibia and Finland. Such person to person contact should be encouraged to learn the cultural values of each nation. This can help to achieve the Namibia we all dream about,” Kinni said. Alma Otto, an official in the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture warned that Namibians should stop criticizing, but should try to do more for education. “This exchange is an example of smart partnership. It contributes towards nation building, in which Namibia has already made great strides. This partnership between Finland and Namibia needs to be encouraged. The participants must make full use of the opportunities this programme offers them,” Alma Otto said. The programme, which caters for many cultural, educational and recreational activities, runs until next week.
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