Meet Rikuvera Matundu from Kalkfeld Primary School. He dropped out of school eleven years ago with no hope of attaining an education until landing in an orphanage that restored his confidence on the path that led to his current success.
Matundu, 16, is one of the 25 learners from disadvantaged backgrounds who will study through the First Lady’s ONE Economy Foundation at one of Windhoek’s best high schools where all his expenses will be covered.
Matundu attended primary education at Kalkfeld Primary School and lived in an orphanage along with an older brother who is in Grade 10 this year.
While fellow learners shared encouraging words and excitement from their parents as they came to the capital city for studies, Matundu shared a story of hardship as a child with his two brothers after being abandoned by their father. He was the youngest.
The teenage boy shared his story on Monday evening when ONE Economy Foundation took them to fit and buy their school uniforms at Boundary wholesalers.
Twenty-five learners who will embark on their secondary school education today come from low-income households and will study through the Talented Individual Programme (TIP) scholarship. ONE aspires to bridge Namibians in the second economy to the first economy.
Matundu is among 15 learners who will start Grade 8 at Windhoek High School today, while seven will attend school at Windhoek Gymnasium and three will go to St Boniface College in Kavango East.
Slightly old for his grade, Matundu said he dropped out in grade one and could not continue to the next grade as no one could pay for his school fees.
Their father took Matundu with his two older siblings from their mother in Opwuo to live with him in Omaruru but later abandoned them in 2005, leaving them to fend for themselves. As a result they dropped out of school and started doing odd jobs to earn an income.
“We had to work hard. We raked yards and fetched wood for people and by 2009 we heard that our mother had moved from Opuwo to Kalkfeld, so we decided to go look for her. We used money that we saved from our job to travel to her.”
Matundu said they did not know what their mother looked like but a lady whom they knew from Omaruru introduced them to their mother in Kalkfeld. They met up with their mother but later ended up in an orphanage.
“My mother is unemployed and she survives from her boyfriend’s income. He is a farm worker,” he said.
The teenage boy said his 47-year-old mother has 11 children and most of his siblings didn’t finish school – only one is doing well and assists their mother.
“I feel great about this. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The first thing I will do after completing my studies is to build my mother a house at a quiet place because where she stays is noisy and she drinks alcohol. At her age she should not be drinking. On the one hand she has children to look after but on the other hand she is drunk,” said the young boy.
“I want to help her and not be in the same situation. There is hunger where she lives. They also live in a small shack,” he adds.
Matundu said he wants to achieve his goals and wants to help the country in a similar manner as he is being assisted by the ONE Economy Foundation.
Another boy from Otjombinde in Omaheke Region, Xhaka Xhaeku, 16, stayed out of school for two years while in primary as he lost his desire to attend school. His mother passed away while very young and his father never took care of him.
His aunt cares for him and put him back in school where he excelled and was chosen as the candidate for this programme. “My aunt told me I must study hard and ask for assistance if I don’t understand anything,” said Xhaeku, who has dreams to become a medical doctor.
He added that this is the only opportunity he has to go forward and take care of his elders.
A 13-year-old girl from Okongo in Ohangwena Region, Olivia Nghidengwa, said her mother advised her to study very hard and not be tempted by boys and bad friends. Nghidengwa said her self-employed mother who is a tailor appreciates ONE’s efforts as it is a financial relief to her as she is the only breadwinner.
Learners were selected from all 14 regions –14 females and 11 males. The total cost per child is about N$130 000.
Helena Kuzee, executive assistant in the Office of the First Lady, added that learners at Windhoek High School will get laptops while those at Windhoek Gymnasium will get Ipads because they are part of the requirements.
“We will do regular education diagnostics to monitor their performance as well as provide psycho-social support in the form of psychologists, social workers, and each child will be assigned to a mentor and tutor if there is a subject they have difficulties with,” said Kuzee.
She added that if a learner has an interest in extramural activities, the foundation would take care of that.