By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The newly added school section to the annual Youth Theatre Festival affords many opportunities to school-going youths in Namibia and as such should be grabbed with both hands. This was the message delivered last week during the school section of the theatre festival by a representative of the Finnish Embassy in Windhoek, Elise Heikkinen. School groups from five different towns in the north and the east of the country participated for the first time in the festival school section, which will now become an annual event. “Cultural activities such as theatre play an important role in any society because it reflects broadly on such a society. Theatre can thus be seen as a means of showing what is at stake in the society of today, both on the personal level of the scriptwriters and actors as well as on the community level,” said Elise Heikkinen, the project manager at the Finnish Embassy last Friday when she officially opened the school section of the festival. She expressed her embassy’s desire to see growth among the school-going youth of today as the future professional writers of Namibia. “The school section gives you an opportunity to experiment with and enhance your creative abilities and skills. The Embassy of Finland finds it very valuable to create opportunities for Namibian youth to empower and enhance themselves creatively through this medium of expression, theatre,” she said. Heikkinen also praised the South African adjudicators for their impartial judging of the self-created stage works on offer during the school section. “I would like to think that gathering here in the capital during this theatre event, you can learn a lot from each other. I hope that you can share ideas and thoughts on theatre development with your fellow artists in efforts to prepare for the next festival next year,” she said, intimating that her embassy will once again finance the annual Youth Theatre Festival. The winning plays were: The Happy Days of Mister Komedey, by Grootfontein Secondary School, Memories Never Die by Wennie du Plessis Secondary School at Gobabis and Frank’s wife by Okahandja Secondary School. Last Saturday Assitej-Namibia also elected its first board consisting of learners form its centers, a national organizer and an executive secretary that will lead the organization for the next three years.