7 March 2018

Namibia: Adults Urged to Show Up for Literacy Classes

Adult literacy coordinators at Walvis Bay have expressed disappointment that many adults do not sign up for or attend classes regularly so that they can be an inspiration to their own children.

According to one of the coordinators, Erica Kandjamba, classes have been offered to adults for years, but they remain empty.

Kandjamba said classes have been advertised and are offered after work, but people would rather sit at home than empower themselves.

"People need to understand that these classes are offered free so that people can become independent. It is so important for people who did not have an education to learn how to read and write, do mathematics, and learn how to assist their children with homework so that life can be easier," she stressed.

Kandjamba said she currently only has 21 people attending her Oshiwambo class, from Monday to Thursday, while many more places are available. Her class is supposed to accommodate at least 40 people.

She also complained that many people join the classes in February, but then quickly drop out.

"It is only the beginning of March, and many people are already dropping out daily. We need to learn the culture of perseverance when it comes to our education. We are an example to our children. Imagine how a child feels when he sees his parent trying to get a better education. The child will be motivated to also stay in school," she said.

Head of department at the !Nara Primary School, Donald Visagie, who attends the Oshikwanyama class, said Namibians need to learn other indigenous languages so that they can communicate with other ethnic groups.

"I decided to commit to this class because I am not an island. We work with other Namibians around us. What happens if you end up in the north, and you want to communicate with a Kwanyama-speaking person who does not know English? Everybody in the country should at least learn another indigenous language," he reiterated.

Visagie added that he is especially shocked when he comes across people boasting that their children cannot speak their mother tongue, but only English.

"It is a real shame. How can you be proud that your child does not know his roots? We live in urban areas, but that does not mean that the children should get lost. Let us make the children proud that they belong to an ethnic group. English is the national language, but they belong somewhere else," he stressed.

Nineteen-year-old Shikapepo Shatumbuka, who also attends the evening classes regularly, said it is difficult to go through life without knowing how to read.

"I decided to attend these classes because sometimes I see a notice, but do not know what is written on it. You want something in a bank or a shop, and you have no idea how to communicate, complete a form or use a service. It is like being in a prison," he said.

Shatumbuka thus advised other adults to attend the classes, which can also be a gateway for them to get jobs.

Indigenous language classes run for three years at the Duinesig and Kuisebmond Secondary Schools, as well as the !Nara Primary School. Classes in Otjiherero and Khoe-Khoekhowab were cancelled because of a lack of interest. Sign language is also offered at Duinesig.

The programme furthermore offers small business training, including bookkeeping. Family literacy classes at Walvis Bay have been offered since 2005.

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