EENHANA – In most secondary schools, it is compulsory for every learner to join a club. The clubs to pick from include the Debating club, Youth Alive, HIV/AIDS and cultural clubs among others.
For either lack of knowledge about the importance of clubs or out of naughtiness, some of the Namibian learners will protest against such rule and only participate as observes in these clubs. The same is still true today with some opting to concentrate on their books or go home instead of joining others in club activities. But are clubs of any value to the Namibian learners? Ronald Tuyeni, a Geography and History teacher at Mwadikange Senior Secondary School explains that a number of life skills can be acquired from school clubs since eligibility for membership is less strict. “The fact that these clubs do not discriminate against any one means it is possible to have [learners] from secondary school all united under one umbrella, which gives everyone an opportunity to learn from each other,” says Tuyeni. To drive his point home, Tuyeni cites the Marital Arts Club at his school which equips learners with self defence mechanisms on top of training them to control their temper. “Our learners meet for training at least once a week. These sessions promote unity in the group and impart important values like discipline which remains part of their life even after school,” Tuyeni adds
For Titus Amutenya, a teacher at Haimbili Haufiku Senior Secondary School, anyone who wants to become confident and a better communicator must join the debating club. “Those who participate in debates regularly have better communication skills than those who don’t,” Amutenya explains. She also believes clubs can play a parent’s role in some cases. “There are topics that most parents shy away from discussing with their children. However, while with their peers in these clubs, learners tend to be more open about issues of sex and in the process learn one or two helpful things under the guidance of an adult teacher,” Amutenya adds.
Muaetako Linekela, a trainee at Eenhana Vocational Training Centre (EVTC) is one such example. “I have obtained sufficient information about sexually transmitted infections from the Health Club, and for the Sport Club, we do a lot of physical exercise with our coach and with the Debate Club at the centre, we have improved our English and Communication skills,” he affirms.
Clubs also have the glue that holds friendships together for a long time. Kally Mukoloshi, a former learner at Haimbili Haufiku Secondary School and now with University of Namibia (Unam) studying Education, says: “I left school sometime back but I have been able to keep in touch with my old friends because we still keep track of our former clubs activities. For instance, I am still a member of the Debating club and Writer’s club at my former school in Ohangwena region,” he explains.
Festus Negongo, a learner at Oshikango Combined School explains that through debating competitions, he has improved his communication skills and also met influential people in Namibia when he toured the country with his debating club. “Everytime, I participate in a debate and I meet new people who might help me in future,” Negongo says. Laina Shilongo, a resident of Eenhana says she met most of her current friends in the debating club. “The most benefits of being a member of a school club may not be realised immediately but later in life. Because club members usually have similar interests, they easily maintain friendship and ventures into different things together,” he says, adding that clubs like those of Science have often been stepping stones to bigger innovations.
“Mostly learners who have developed simple gadgets while still at school in their respective science clubs have gone on to make bigger innovations in life,” Shilongo adds
Some parents, however, argue that today’s clubs are no longer as active as in the old days. Tumwine Ashipala, a parent at Ondobe, says their Scout Club many years ago was very active and competitive. “After undergoing training at school, we would go for further preparations in the camps. In the camps we were taught a number of survival skills like setting up fire but today very few schools have such active establishments,” he says.