Reading Is Not Only English – Namcol

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK In an attempt to fight illiteracy in the country mostly brought about by unfair colonial practices that denied most Namibians basic education, the Namibia College of Open Learning (Namcol) yesterday launched the translated version of the ‘Certificate in Education for Development’ (CED) booklet. The booklet on life-changing stories is in three indigenous languages, namely, Khoe Khoe Gowab, Oshindonga, and Oshikwanyama. According to Namcol Director, Francis Ferreira, this project started in 2004 when the first English version of the CED booklet was launched. The booklet was designed to help community development workers such as literacy promoters, health educators and project managers in transferring knowledge to those aspiring to form part of the literate society. “The decision to translate these stories in these vernaculars is informed by our desire to cultivate a general reading culture and to promote the principles of a learning nation. Reading … is not only English,” she said. With a national mandate to assist members of communities to complete basic education, the institution strives to make education as relevant as possible to people’s livelihoods. Based on that, the director added that Namcol’s approach is based on functional literacy, which goes beyond reading, writing and simple arithmetic and emphasizes a holistic approach to raise the living standards of people. Ferreira says, “A literate society is crucial for the eradication of poverty; reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.” With an annual learner enrolment of 28 000, the director stated that her institution will continue to ensure that education remains relevant to the socio-economic wellbeing of the country. Namcol is in the process of writing short stories on how people’s lives have changed after going through Namcol. The initiative aims to inspire Namibian youth and elders by reminding them that there is no age restriction when it comes to learning.