Education is key to success and Julia Nawemas, founder and teacher of the Lighthouse Kindergarten, is one person doing justice to the phrase. In a settlement of approximately 1 500 inhabitants, Nawemas took the initiative to educate the children in her community.
Lighthouse Kindergarten is situated at Schlip settlement, approximately 90km west of Rehoboth in the Hardap Region. It currently has 26 children: 17 girls and nine boys. Established in 2014, the kindergarten aims at preparing children for the primary phase of their school careers.
“After I failed Grade 10 in 2009, I was working as a domestic worker in Windhoek until 2013. My mother then called me back, due to ill health, to come and stay with her. I then saw the need to help my community and decided to start a kindergarten to help children with numbers and the colouring-in of pictures. There was no kindergarten here and I was concerned about the future of our kids,” she says.
Nawemas says she knew that without proper pre-primary background, children tend to struggle at school and felt that a foundation should be laid in educating the children of her community. She then completed Basic ECD Curriculum Training through the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW). Although the kindergarten is currently housed in a dilapidated building of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC), Nawemas says she is determined to make a difference in her community and is looking forward to future development with support from various entities.
“Currently, an ECD centre is being constructed by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and upon its completion, we will move in there. I’m receiving educational materials and toys from MGECW. Noshisha Fishing Company donated the chairs and tables that we are using here.
“The parents are also very much involved in cleaning the premises of the kindergarten. Most children come from impoverished households and sometimes don’t have something to eat and others who bring food usually share,” she said.
Helena De Wee, who has two boys attending the Lighthouse Kindergarten, commended the initiative. “Our children were just running around in the streets and staying at home. Now, with the help of Julia, our children spend their days productively by attending the kindergarten, where they are being taught how to count and make things with their hands,” said De Wee.
Contacted for comment, MGECW spokesman Charlie Matengu said the ECD centre under construction still needs extra classes and a library before it becomes operational.
Matengu said a team of MGECW officials did an inspection in February and saw the building did not meet standards, which is when construction was stopped, but it will resume in about two months.
“The budget for extra additions to the building has already been submitted for construction to resume. The quotations received are in the process of being approved. We still need to build a library, a kitchen and dining area, and an extra room for the caretaker of the centre.”
Matengu said the building is due to be handed over to the community in January 2017.