By Frederick Philander
The last in a series of educational books, titled ‘Our Journals,’ that was produced under the Writing by Kids project was on Monday officially launched.
In a speech on behalf of USAID, American Ambassador Dennise Mathieu applauded the learners who wrote the text of the book from their cultural backgrounds. She handed ten copies of the book to Minister of Education Nangolo Mbumba.
“Recently, I read Our Journals, and the sense of pride and care with which the children wrote and illustrated their entries came shining through. I took great pleasure in reading the journal entries.
“There is no better way to learn about a country and its culture than to hear the personal stories of its people – I thank you for providing me with this opportunity to read these insightful, engaging entries,” Mathieu said.
Our Journals is the final book in the series of readers written and illustrated by Namibians for Namibian children.
“This has been an excellent project. The books focus on life experiences that are moving, entertaining and culturally relevant. I’m sure they have helped to sharpen reading and writing skills; promoted a love for reading and self-expression; and taught important life skills,” she said.
Since 2004 the United States Government has proudly supported innovative educational projects as part of its partnership with the Ministry of Education to help improve the quality of education in Namibia, support Namibia’s orphans and vulnerable children and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on the education system.
“The stories in Our Journals give a glimpse of the tragic, sobering effects that HIV and AIDS have on the lives of so many children in Namibia and show the impact that the epidemic has on families and individuals. Through the journals, you also gain an appreciation of these young Namibians –
and of their strength, compassion, and commitment to help combat HIV and AIDS,” the ambassador said.
The journal collections will promote open classroom discussions.
“As parents, we know that discussing subjects, even those that can be difficult to talk about such as HIV/AIDS, is one of the best means of education and, ultimately, prevention. As a result of this project, Namibian learners now have a new and powerful tool to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“I want to especially recognize the young authors who are here with us today.
The 50 journal entries that are published in this book were selected by a committee as a showcase of the best work completed by 480 learners and their teachers who worked on personal journal writing over the past year.”
In conclusion, she expressed the hope learners throughout Namibia will enjoy reading and learning from stories that speak to them, reflect their culture and their life experiences.
Minister Mbumba said that the new book would enhance his ministry’s efforts to improve reading and writing in primary schools.
“When the Writing for Kids project was initiated four years ago, the concept was met with considerable skepticism. The notion that Namibian books for Namibian children to read could be written and published right here in the country was seen as unrealistic. Today we are launching the final book in the series,” Mbumba said proudly.