Leena Iitula was born in a small village of Okakonya in Oshana Region where she completed her early primary education. Her parents later moved to Ongwediva for better education for her and her four younger siblings. There she completed her senior primary education at Ongwediva Control Primary School and secondary education at Mweshipandeka Secondary School.
Born to a mother who is a teacher, Iitula aspired to also become a teacher. After secondary school, Iitula pursued her undergraduate degree in Education at the University of Namibia (UNAM) where she majored in English and became a high school English teacher for six years before becoming an education officer. Teaching English in both rural and urban schools exposed her to various challenges that impede the perfomance of learners in English as a Second Language. Iitula felt the need to improve herself professionally, and began looking for further study opportunities.
She completed her first Master of Arts in English studies at UNAM, and graduated Cum Laude. She felt the need to complement her graduate qualification with another one which is more specific to the teaching of English as a Second Language. Since no institution in the country offers such a postgraduate qualification, Iitula started considered furthering her studies abroad.
She had heard about the Fulbright scholarship from friends whom she studied with at Unam and were alumni of the prestigeous scholarship, so she gave it a shot. She was fortunate enough to be offered the scholarship for the 2017-2019 academic year to pursue a Masters in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Minnesota State University in the city of Mankato in the United States.
She describes the application process as smooth and found the American Cultural Center staff really helpful and responsive to queries regarding the scholarship. At the time she was awarded the scholarship, Iitula was serving as a Senior Education Officer responsible for English in Oshana Region, and was granted study leave by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture for the two years she was to be away.
Studying abroud through the Fulbright scholarship has been a life changing experience, Iitula admits. It has exposed her to the intricacies of linguistics and the teaching thereof. Studying in the United States gave her a chance to experience a different education style which offered her an opportunity to see a side to her major from a different perspective and helped her assess the needs of her country with regard to English education from an objective perspective. She further described the experience as a great opportunity for personal growth. “Immersing oneself in another culture where no one speaks your language or shares your culture helps develop valuable life skills including independence, adaptability, and self confidence,” says Iitula. Being the only Namibian on campus taught her to be able to live and get along with different types of people from different parts of the world which gave her a greater perspective about the world and helped her appreciate societal and cultural differences. She also learned a tremendous amount about the U.S. culture and way of life through her wonderful American host family.
Iitula graduated in May this year, and is now back at her office in the Oshana Region, where she works as a Senior Education Officer responsible for English. Her job involves providing professional development services to English teachers in the region. As a passionate English educator, Iitula plans to share with the teachers her newly aqcuired knowledge on innovative ways of asessment, learner centred English teaching methods, as well as developing linguistically responsive teaching materials that are relevant to the learners of Oshana Region and the country at large, especially during the time the country is implementing a revised curriculum.
2019-07-10 10:02:07 2 months ago