New Era (Windhoek)

10 January 2006

Namibia: Peace Corps Volunteers Welcomed

Windhoek — THE objectives of volunteers in Namibia and the rest of the world are not to impose American ideas and practices, but to work towards finding solutions to the challenges facing nations in which they operate.

With these words the American ambassador, Joyce Barr, on Friday welcomed a total of 58 American Peace Corps members to the country at a local hotel. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Vitalis Ankama, also officiated at the swearing-in ceremony of the 25th group of volunteers on behalf of the Namibian government.

"The goals of American volunteers in Namibia are to promote better understanding between our two peoples and through better understanding to promote world peace.

"They are not only in the country to teach alone, but also to learn as a continuation of the work done over the past 15 years in health, education, cultural enrichment, economic development, drought relief and strengthening government institutions," Barr reminded the new volunteers who will be deployed all over the country for the next two years.

The new group of volunteers have undergone eight weeks of indigenous language training at a centre in the town of Omaruru.

"Your two-year stay in Namibia will be challenging. No matter what field you work in, whether it be education, health or youth outreach, you will be working on issues that directly affect the lives of the Namibian people.

"In the process, you will have a chance to observe the lives and understand the perspective of the people that inhabit this wonderful country," she said emotionally.

Ankama welcomed the volunteers and briefed them on the different sectors in secondary education in the country.

"We have a situation of well resourced versus inadequately resourced schools in the country; schools with enough textbooks and learning materials versus serious shortages of textbooks;

specialised teachers versus a lack of them and conducive and not so conducive infrastructure," Ankama old the volunteers.

With regard to Namibian teachers, the PS said: "We face a situation of well qualified versus unqualified subject teachers;

dedicated and hard working versus a lack of motivation; a proficiency in English as a medium of instruction versus a lack thereof; discipline versus a lack of self discipline and hard work versus a lack of ethics," he said.

He informed the group about social problems facing the education system.

"These social and health problems include poverty, OVC, HIV and AIDS, crime, drugs, alcohol, prostitution, high drop-out rates, long distances of learners from school, a lack of modern technology," he said.

Language training manager Tuaanda Keeja praised the 58 volunteers for their talents, creativity, energy, commitment and professionalism in mastering the indigenous languages in only eight weeks.

"Walk into the community you will be working in expectantly for each community is an adventure.

"Enjoy the challenges, the joy and the rewards of your hard work," Keeja told the enthusiastic troupe of volunteers, who will as from this week be deployed throughout the country.

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