Namibian youth would only be best empowered when they are provided with access to proper education opportunities and proper school infrastructure, along with the requisite support to educate themselves.
This was the view of Ned Sibeya, deputy chief of national development at the National Planning Commission, during the handover last week of the renovated Eiseb Block 10 Primary School in the Otjombinde Constituency of Omaheke Region. The renovation was an initiative of the Namibian-German Special Programme (NGSIP), the Catherin Bullen Foundation (CBF) and partners.
Sibeya said school infrastructure remains a critical issue on the social agenda of government and its partners. “We need to invest more in our education system. Resolving the current challenges at schools requires a concerted effort from government, the private sector and community,” Sibeya said.
“With the high rate of youth unemployment I believe the only solution is investment in the education of the young ones still in school,” he added. Sibeya further that emphasised there is proof of a close correlation between earnings and education levels. Therefore, he said learners should be encouraged to grab the opportunity to go to school.
On his part, the co-founder of the Catherin Bullen Foundation, Roger Bullen, said the new kitchen would provide a hygienic and safe environment for the preparation and consumption of meals. “It will mean that staff will no longer have to work with open fires anymore, which are the cause of respiratory problems due to the inhalation of smoke,” Bullen said and urged the learners and the community not to vandalise the new facilities, but to ensure that the buildings are kept in good condition.
“Linda and I will be returning every six months to carry out inspections and we hope to find everything to be working and in place,” he promised.
The Foundation was founded in memory of Catherin Bullen, a fifth-year medical student who in the summer of 2002 travelled to Namibia to go on safari. Two days into the safari she became seriously ill with a virulent strain of gastro-enteritis. Despite valiant efforts to save her, she died in Oshivelo near Etosha, aged just 22 years.
Speaking at the same accession, British High Commissioner to Namibia Jo Lomas expressed her excitement about the joint initiative, saying: “Educational standards need to improve if increased economic growth is to be realised in Namibia.” She, however, cautioned that achieving that would be no walk in the park.
“But there are great challenges to doing that and coming to Eiseb highlights the difficulties of catering to children in remote areas, she said, adding that the facilities here are a small contribution to that challenge, as having decent surroundings, nutrition, hygiene and care are essential to helping children to learn. She noted that many rural schools do not only lack classrooms, but also lack secure and constant electricity supply.
The Catherin Bullen Foundation supported the construction of a 40-bed hostel, kitchen and dining hall for girls at Eiseb Block Primary School, while the NGSIP supplied mattresses and beds.
In addition, NGSIP built and equipped two 16-bed hostels for boys and girls, renovated two existing 40-bed hostels, as well as an informal kitchen at a combined cost of of N$1,6 million. NGSIP also added bathrooms and showers to the existing hostels, while the Catherine Bullen Foundation funded the complete construction of the hostel, kitchen and dining hall.