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Teaching is a sacred calling

By Dr. Elijah Ngurare
I was told long ago: "Education is the Mother of all professions". In other words, teachers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, politicians or economists etc, were all once students. Put differently, everybody who is somebody today was a student. Our vibrant and, youthful Minister of Education, Dr. Abraham Iyambo and his Deputy, Dr. David Namwandi, has educated us that "Education is a shared responsibility".

In other words, we must as a nation do what I would sum as "each one teach one and reach one". This is the faith with which I visited schools in the past weeks, in my capacities as Board Member of Kalahari Holdings (Pty. Ltd) and Chairperson of the School Board and Patron of some schools. I addressed the students of Highline Secondary School in Katutura,Hochland High School in Hochland Park and Uukule Senior Secondary School inOshikoto Region with the message of success and to motivate their Grades 10 and 12 learners in their preparation for the end of year national examinations.

Last week, on the invitation of the Epupa Education Circuit Inspector, (Kunene Region), I visited Putuavanga and Mureti Secondary Schools as well as the Kunene English Private Primary School in Opuwo. I also visited the Okanguati Combined School and its hostel at Okanguati as well as Ruiter Primary School at Ohandungu village. I was accompanied by the Circuit Inspector, Mrs. Bernadette Jagger. The Circuit Inspector was full of energy and enthusiasm and she commands respect and admiration of her peers. I heard about so many inspiring testimonies of learners and teachers making it against all odds in Kunene Region. I heard and saw efforts that government is making in the education of the Namibian child in that mountainous and seemingly sparsely populated region. The government is on a historic mission which is commendable namely to educate the children of the Ovahimba, Ovatue, Ovazemba and other nomadic groups of Kunene Region. This is an uphill battle considering the cultural beliefs that school is taken as a secondary priority and looking after cattle or household chores is the primary responsibility.

In this regard, I believe that the children of these communities are the real soldiers for the socio-economic transformation that can happen in the area. Fortunately, indications are that with the consistent support of government this is possible. I was happy to meet the students of Putuavanga who won N$50,000.00 in the national competition for the Bank of Namibia debating championship. It was also pleasing to know that some of the schools also scored higher at the regional rankings. At Okanguati Combined School I met students who schooled at Otjikondavirongo Primary School, a school seen as amongst the schools in the remotest parts of the region. The students come from very far to obtain education; on its part, government has initiated a process of mobile schools and also feeding programs through the Office of the Prime Minister. However, all the schools I visited need a serious facelift and Okanguati Combined School hostel looks like a pigsty. Thus, it is advisable that the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Works and Transport should look into this rather urgently. It was also amatter of concern to learn that in an area with such a need for hostels it was reported that Health Inspectors take almost forever to approve community hostels for registration such as the case for Ohandungu village where a long list of shortcomings are listed. That implies that a Fitness Certificate cannot be issued which cause learners to not benefit from the Government's subsidy.

I have always held the teaching profession in high regard, and after my recent visit to Kunene Region's Epupa Educational Circuit, I am more convinced than ever that teachers are not only silent modern heroes but are in fact the patriotic resources we have in our national arsenal to win the war on illiteracy, underdevelopment, ignorance and poverty. Let us treat them well; let us paythem well and let us house them well.

I was impressed by the infrastructural development at Ekundu Combined School in Okalongo where the Ministry of Education is renovating the school and also constructing the new houses forteachers. According to the Minister of Education, Dr. Abraham Iyambo, this programme is nationwide. Thus we must remain hopeful that great things are coming for the education sector. I hail all the teachers especially the young teachers; for in them I notice a lot of dedication, commitment and patriotism. I am proud of them for their hard work and creativity in teaching particularly those who have agreed to work in rural areas. At Uukule Senior Secondary School and Okanguati Combined School, it was them, the teachers who bought prizes to motivate their learners. At Leinge Private Primary School, it was a young teacher who decided to start a new school on her own and create employment for other young teachers. The same goes for the Kunene English Private Primary School, young people initiated the idea for the school and recruiting fellow young people as teachers.

Yes there are challenges in education; yes there are shortcomings of infrastructure or teaching staff, amongst others, but I am hopeful that, as a country, we are on the right track, let us not fall and neither stumble, but remain focus, firm and determined to do what Dr. Iyambo says namely "deliver, deliver and deliver" on education. Teaching is a calling and let it be so, don't spoil it and don't tarnish it by your action as a teacher or learner. I therefore in conclusion, want to join the Ministry of Education by wishing the students of schools in all 13 Regions and in particular all Grade 10s and 12s success in their end of year national examinations. We believe in you and above all believe in yourself; work hard, the rest God shall add for you in order to pass 100% for the good of yourself, family and the love of Motherland Namibia.

Dr. Elijah Ngurare

Board Member: Kalahari Holdings Pty (Ltd) and Chairperson of the School Board: Hochland High School.
He is also Secretary of SWAPO Party Youth League.






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