Seven young Namibians have taken it upon themselves to fix dilapidating structures of early childhood development schools through their New Elementary Namibia organisation.
ECD refers to the development of children up to eight years of age and encompasses different stages in the development of the child and the different needs that have to be addressed by different institutional structures.
The team of seven Namibian professionals operates within different disciplines such as civil engineering, finance, health, political science, education and law. Responsibilities are designated to each member in a manner that complements their competencies and skills sets.
New Elementary Namibia organisation founder and executive director Helena Kandjumbwa told Youth Corner certain teaching and learning structures pose a threat to the health, safety and wellbeing of children, equally impeding their ability to concentrate and engage, which, in turn, affects learning outcomes.
“New Elementary Namibia was established for a specific purpose – to improve the quality and raise the standard of early childhood education in vulnerable communities through the reconstruction of battered infrastructure, provision of standardised knowledge capital and rendering technical support by way of exposing teachers and caregivers to skills development programmes,” highlighted Kandjumbwa.
The objective of the initiative is to create a stimulating, conducive and adequate learning environment that supports the cognitive development of the child and allows for their creativity and imagination to thrive.
“We have successfully rebuilt the first school in November 2019 (United Hope Pre-Primary School in Havana) and have subsequently produced a documentary that chronicles the journey of how it all began and what it took to see it through to completion,” said Kandjumbwa.She holds an honours degree in Law (LLB) and a Diploma in Paralegal Studies from the University of Namibia. Outside her legal background, Kandjumbwa has more than seven years experience working in community development, social impact and early childhood education spaces.
“The initiative is essentially a culmination of my previous experiences as a volunteer teacher at a children’s centre in one of Windhoek’s vulnerable communities. Having worked in challenging environments for extended periods exposed me to the realities of poverty and its scaring effects on the educational development of the child, and reinforced that several unmet and under-met educational and developmental needs require urgent intervention.”
Kandjumbwa said funding for this project comes from private individuals and corporate institutions – both local and international, as they do a rather decent job at selling the value of their operations to potential donors and establishing clearly how their funding generates social and economic impact.
Caretaker of the United Hope Pre-Primary School Lucia Hamukoto said the school was in very poor condition; it was small and not fit for providing educational services.
“Every time we received donations such as books and mattresses, they’d be destroyed once heavy rain comes. That’s when Helena decided to reconstruct the school. We faced many challenges during the process; it was not easy at all but the school is in perfect condition and the community is benefiting from it. We register more children now because we are able to accommodate them. The environment is very safe and allows the children to play and learn freely – something they were not able to do before. We are very happy,” said Hamukoto.