Namibian children eager for friends in Canada

Tsjaka, Namibia

By Bernice Kew


NetCorps is a program sponsored by Industry Canada which sends young Canadians (age 19- 30) with technical expertise to developing countries. These people help their host countries use technology to develop education and health programs and other resources. Bernice Kew is a volunteer with NetCorps and WUSC. She sent SNN this report on her travels in Namibia.

Ben Hur Primary School is located in Tsjaka, 50 kilometres outside of Gobabis in the eastern part of Namibia (Omaheke Region). The school opened in January 1998 to serve students from the surrounding San, Tswana and Herero communities. One hundred and forty children, ranging from Grades 1-6, attend the school.

Although English is the official language of Namibia, the six teachers at Ben Hur School conduct their classes in English, Tswana, and Afrikaans. The courses taught there include Environmental Studies, Social Studies, English, Math, Art, Science, Craft & Technology, and three language classes.

Most children live on farms and walk to school. But about 70 students live at the school in the hostel because they live further than 10 kilometres away from the school. The government sponsors the construction of schools closer to rural communities but it is up to the parents, care- givers and teachers to find funds to accommodate the children. The children have been living in a borrowed army tent until funds to build a proper hostel are found. The school is now in the process of setting up a pre-fab hostel donated by the local municipality.

Ben Hur School is a small building made up of four classrooms and a supplies room. There is a separate building to accommodate the washrooms. The school does not have a library but the teachers hope to build one as soon as they find the money. The school fee for a child to attend Ben Hur is $50 per year and the school relies on various funding sources such as government funding and local donations. On June 16th, the students celebrated African Child Day. To mark the occasion, local stores donated candy to the children and the Red Cross and Oxfam Canada donated blankets for the children living in the hostel.

During my stay at the Ben Hur Training Centre, volunteering as a computer trainer, I spoke to a few children who attend Ben Hur Primary School. The children are very enthusiastic to learn about Canada and would like Canadian children to correspond with them.

Marvellous Balzar is 11 years old and lives in Tsjaka with his seven brothers and sister. He enjoys writing and playing soccer with his friends. Marvellous wants to know what subjects are taught in Canadian schools. He is fan of South Africa's national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, and wants to know about soccer teams in Canada.

Jan Moteka is 15 years old and wants to know what the weather is like in Canada. In June, it is winter in Namibia. During the early morning and evenings it is cold, but during a typical winter day, the sun shines through a cloudless sky. Jan also want to know what languages are spoken in Canada and what language you enjoy speaking. Jan can speak Tswana, English, and Afrikaans.

Eliza Goeieman is 11 years old and has two sisters. She finishes school at one o'clock each afternoon. After school, she enjoys playing with her dolls and doing her Math and English homework. Eliza wants to know what sports children play in Canada and the type of food people in Canada eat.

Ben Gariseb lives at the school's hostel and goes home to his family and five brothers on the weekend. He lives in Goeie Hope, about 30 kilometres from school. Ben's family drives him home in their pickup, while other children living in the hostel travel home by donkey cart. Ben likes his English class and enjoys drawing. Ben is also a soccer fan and wants to know if children in Canada enjoy playing soccer.

You can write to students at Ben Hur Primary School at P.O.Box 925, Gobabis, Namibia.

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