WINDHOEK - Right in the middle of the silver corrugated iron sheet shacks at the sprawling informal settlement of Havana is a purple structure that catches the eye at first sight.
It is the Maria Kindergarten, a private pre-primary school started eleven years ago by Fiina Martin, who is now 60-years-old.
Martin who has a qualification in Early Childhood Development (ECD) said she was compelled to start the kindergarten in the heart of Havana because she wants to see children in that neighbourhood to be educated. Martin started with 12 learners in one class but today the kindergarten is home to 200 learners with eight classrooms.
The school has two curriculums, namely the Amazing Brainz for 2 to 4-years old children which amongst others focuses on the health and social development of children.
As for the 5 to 6-years old, the school follows the government curriculum and the learners are exposed to drawing, mathematics, environmental issues and games, explained Martin. The school has eight teachers and five assistants of the school.
“When I came here in Havana, I could see a lot of kids playing in the streets, and I wanted to take care of them, to educate them. At first it was very small, then we had to expand on the other side of the street to welcome all the kids,” Martin gushes passionately about the school’s growth.
The school’s structure is a combination of corrugated iron sheets and brick walls painted in attractive purple colours.
The entire programme of the school is in English, to help the pupils to be fluent at a very early age, said Martin. “My dream for this school is for it to succeed. The kids are the future, we are working for the future,” remarked Martin.
The school fee is N$240 per month. “There’s challenges, some of the parents don’t have work and aren’t paying. But we keep them, so the kids can have an education. Some of them come with empty stomachs, so sometimes some organisations like Life Change come and help us with food,” added Martin.
Martin have encouraging words for those who are interested in venturing in business. “Even if there are challenges do not give up. Keep going, to continue to move forward,” advised Martin who is also a teacher at the school.
* Lucie Mouillaud is a journalism intern from Toulouse, south of France