By Frederick Philander
The second Star School Project, an HIV/AIDS initiative for Namibia aimed at inspiring secondary school learners to live an AIDS-free life, was on Friday officially launched at Augustineum Secondary School in Khomasdal.
Deputy Minister of Education Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo was the guest speaker at the event. The first Star school, a Swedish initiative, was launched late last year at Jan Jonker Afrikaner Secondary School.
“The revised educational curriculum envisages a learner whose identity is built on values of self-respect for others and the environment, commitment to lifelong learning and meaningful participation in society. In line with this vision, each of the six mental vaccination workshops over three years are custom designed to tap into and awaken the potential inherent capabilities in all learners, and serve as the catalyst to creating this envisaged identity,” Dr Ndjoze-Ojo said.
A Star school coach facilitates two learner workshops per school each year, supported by the school’s Star school general and life skills educators.
“In order to minimize disruption to normal schooling, workshops are run in groups of 100 – 150 learners per session in a specially erected marquee on the school premises. These workshops include topics such as Dreams Can Be fulfilled, the Power of Thoughts, Journey to Success, Be Informed about HIV/AIDS and Shine On,” she said.
As a follow-up to the transformational workshops, educators engage with learners to build on and reinforce learning so that it can be internalized by the learners and bring about the desired behavioral change.
“This life-changing project is important for the fight against HIV/AIDS as well as to help and inspire you as learners of this once prestigious school to do well in other areas of your lives. The project also includes teachers; through the mental inspiration and personal transformation of teachers as eminent role models in the school, inspiration and transformation can be cascaded to the learners. Thus fostering a culture of dedicated teaching and learning,” the deputy minister said.
This shall in turn enable learners to live an AIDS-free life.
“This programme encourages learners to realize their dreams by writing down their dreams in a dream book. Regular assessment, which enables them to refocus on their dreams and thereby to picture and live to achieve them,” she said.
The main goal of the project is to make teachers more sensitive to learners’ needs and development.
“It is my sincere trust and hope that Augustineum shall use this project to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic and through its own social and academic reconstruction, prepare itself to regain its glory. We, the former students of this school, are encouraged by the encouraging signs we are beginning to see.
“Keep up the good work as you improve yourselves to even greater heights. It is true that most dwarfs wish to be giants and no giant wishes to be a Dwarf,” she said.
The acting circuit inspector of the Khomas Region, Urbanus Kaihiva, at the same event said the Namibian youth have a very high new infection rate.
“HIV has the power to destroy our human capital, the leaders of the future.
We cannot let that happen. The Star School Project complements and reinforces the education sector’s other prevention programmes. It also provides learners a golden opportunity to enhance the quality of their lives and opens the door to a healthy life,” Kaihiva said.
He encouraged the school’s learners to focus their time and energies on their studies so as to enjoy a better life when they are older.
“Many young people get involved in unhealthy and destructive behaviour because of peer pressure. Trying out new things is one way to learn, but use your commonsense when you choose what to experiment with,” he warned.