1 February 2013

Namibia: Unlocking Doors to Proper Education in Rural Areas

After just a year of teaching at the Divundu Combined School in 2010, Scott Karrel, has come back to help change the lives of the school children of Divundu Combined School through the Unlock Foundation.

Sent by the US Government through the World Teach Organisation to teach English at the Divundu Combined School, Karrel observed how primary schools in the rural areas were leaving children behind. And with a desire to effect changes at the school where he taught, upon his return to the U.S, Karrel managed to gather enough money through donations to equip the school's first library with two computers, books, chairs, paint and a blackboard for the school.

"When I went back to the States, I decided to start up the Unlock Foundation, a US non-governmental organisation that seeks to address critical educational gaps in rural schools."

Clearly passionate about education, and as Director of the Unlock Foundation, Karrel told the Economist that the name Unlock symbolises the true potential and dynamic impact that Unlocking the gaps of education in rural schools have on the future of children.

"Education can unlock and change your life, it doesn't matter where you come from. What we are aiming to do is unlock the doors to education for children in rural areas."

Officially launched last year, the Unlock Foundation currently not only operates in Namibia but Ghana as well, and have successfully embarked on projects that are implemented and run by the school itself. "We cant change the curriculum but we can encourage and help kids stay in the classroom by providing proper resources and facilities," said Karrel.

A teacher at Divundu and Unlock Foundation staff member, Christopher Sikosi said the project has helped the children view education as the way to a brighter future. "The spirit of competition is notably being observed as the planned re-introduction of the scholarship programme is set to kick-off soon."

Meanwhile Karrel said that whilst many organisations prescribe for what donor money should be used, "the people at the grass roots level know what suits them best, they know what they need. And we do not do the implementation either, we only provide finances and administer the projects."

Last year the Unlock Foundation raised N$80,0000 for the two schools (Ghana and Namibia) and this year, the Unlock Foundation hopes to raise even more money to embark on new projects and to continue with existing projects.

Karrel said the organisation does not need huge sums of money to make a difference in the life of one child, "we don't need a million, even a ten dollar can make a difference in the life of a little child."

One of their continuous projects is the mosquito net project which has a major impact on the living conditions of the Divundu learners. Another, the Desk Improvement Project focuses on learning conditions inside the classroom.

Sikosi said, "the mosquito nets are so successful. Hardly any cases of malaria were reported at the school last year so learners were able to attend all their classes. Also the chairs and desks repair was successful and learners now have chairs to sit on and desks to work at." A priority for the future is the Science Lab Repair project. Other intended projects include the Hostel Improvement project, the Garden project, and the new Administration Block project.

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