WINDHOEK - Twenty-five-year-old Erassy Frans and his siblings from Ondeikalela in Ruacana, northern Namibia, have never been to school and as such are unable to read or write.
Frans, who describes himself as a Thimba, says when he was younger his parents instructed him to herd livestock and plough their mahangu fields instead of going to school. He is also undocumented.
“The schools were there but far. Time to go to school was not there as we were told to herd livestock or plough the field. And I think our parents did not value schools back then,” he shares.
Frans is the second born of seven children and says only his elder brother received a little education with adult education classes. His brother is now employed at a local supermarket at Outapi in Omusati Region. New Era caught up with Frans from Havana informal settlement when he came to register for national documents at Tobias Hainyeko community hall (behind the clinic) in Hakahana through an initiative by community activist Shaanika Nashilongo of Monica Gender Violence Solution. After obtaining his documents Frans plans to register his two-year-old daughter who also does not have a birth certificate.
Asked if he can read and write, Frans responds: “I only know how to write my name through text messaging. I can read SMS too but only in Otjiherero and Oshiwambo.”
With no education Frans who is a tiler – a skill he learnt through on-the-job training – admitted it is difficult to secure a good job. He says this also makes it difficult for him to negotiate a salary.
“Educated people live better. If I was educated, I would have become a teacher. Being a tiler is difficult as two months can go by with no work and it makes surviving difficult. But if I was educated, I would have had a salary,” he remarked.
Frans was previously employed as a cattle herder on a farm at Omaruru but decided to move to the city in 2009 for a better life.
Nashilongo who is conducting the registration in the area with the knowledge of the councillor of Moses //Garoeb Constituency, David Martin, said he met about 20 people including women and children from Ruacana who have never been to school, besides not having national documents.
Regarding the registration, Nashilongo said so far 1 300 people without national documents have been registered.
Nashilongo said the registration which started in October will continue until the first week of January. He explained that after registration they will approach the home affairs ministry, present names and relate the challenges the communities are facing without documents.
Nashilongo added he is aware of the procedure to acquire national documents but labeled it “colonial”.
He said it’s more difficult for adults whose parents failed to acquire documents for them while they were children, or one’s parents wishing to acquire a birth certificate for their child(ren) but one parent is missing. He explained that in the case of adults without documents the requirements are difficult to meet as some people are expected to present a birth identification number but some people were born at home like in Opuwo.
He added that although the ministry has its own campaign whereby they go out to the masses to register them for national documents, not everyone is assisted.
He said that with this registration they are targeting the elections and if the ministry does not want to register them, he will tell the people not to vote for any political party in the upcoming elections. He says it is easier for a person without national documents to get a voter’s card but not national documents. Nashilongo also says it is easier for foreigners who have been living here for five years to get citizenship.