Children on farms and in rural areas are no longer the forgotten and left behind children they used to be, thanks to the Amos Meerkat Schools (AMS).
The project started a few years ago and currently reaches out to some 5 000 children in 168 pre-primary schools countrywide. This was revealed during last week’s 28th annual congress of the Agricultural Employers’ Association (AEA) in Windhoek when outgoing chairperson, Hellmut Fӧrtsch, gave an overview of the worked done by the project. Children have been benefitting from the dedicated tuition they have been receiving from trained teachers countrywide for the past few years and lately the trainers themselves have something to be thankful about. Recently, the AMS project’s own training centre was officially opened at Unit 4 in the Gold Street Business Park in Prosperita. The occupation of these premises was made possible by Faanbergh Winckler projects, who joined other committed business partners in supporting this worthwhile project.
The whole project (registered as a Section 21 company) started a few years back with a farmer’s wife, Judy Wiese, who realised the need amongst farm children, and with the help of donors like Hollard Insurance, Waltons Namibia, the First National Bank Foundation, Waltons Namibia and Namibia Media Holdings, gave life to her dreams. Other benefactors like The Sign Shop, Ernst & Young and Nashua as well as individuals have joined lately. AMS equips informal preschools that do not have access to any curriculum to ensure that the learners are educationally prepared to enter Grade 1.There are currently about 3 460 children aged five and six years, and a total of 5 000 children of all ages in 168 “schools” with 196 teachers in the north, south, east and west of the country who benefit from this initiative.
The teachers are empowered by way of a Namibian context curriculum, educational aids, stationary and subsequent monitoring. The curriculum is supported by teacher kits, which include teacher manuals and educational aids such as puppets and story, perception and activity material, as well as twelve modular workbooks for each learner. Each learner receives basic stationary to enable them to use their workbooks effectively and master the necessary skills.
The new premises, comprising an office and warehouse, serve as a central location from where the project administration, implementation and operations are managed, because it entails also the storage and distribution of a large amount of material used in the pre-school classes countrywide.
The Namibia LifeChange Centres Foundation (NLCF) and Amos Namibia are the main implementing partners of the initiative and all the work is done by a team of committed volunteers.According to Fӧrtsch, only 18 respondents mentioned that pre-schooling is done on their farms during last year’s Wage Survey. “The AEA is of the opinion that many more members should facilitate this concept to prepare the work force of tomorrow,” he stressed.