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The fairy godmother of education in Namibia

2020-07-27  Paheja Siririka

The fairy godmother of education in Namibia
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Mononymously known as ED (executive director), Sanet Lentrud Steenkamp (48), also better known as Tahnee among Karasburgers realised the passion for education while at university when she gave birth to her daughter Janine.
“When I fell pregnant with my daughter, it was during my first year of university, that spurred me on to become a qualified teacher because right thereafter, I left university and taught for two years as an unqualified teacher at Karasburg, my hometown, ” shared and recalled the overzealous Steenkamp.

The mother of four, two by heart and two by the body as she dubbed it has been married for 11 years to the deputy-commissioner of operations in the Khomas region.

Passion for education
Steenkamp got exposed to the education sector in 1991 as unqualified teacher earning money just to get by. 
“I loved every moment of teaching and I worked hard just as much as a qualified teacher but I also realised that I won’t be able to make a living off N$749, so after two years when I grasped that I was destined for greater things, I went back to study and finalised my degree, ” said Steenkamp.

From the University of Namibia (Unam), Steenkamp obtained a Bachelor’s and a post-graduate diploma in education. She continued with her studies and pursued Masters in Education, Leadership and Management from Rhodes University, a senior management certificate course from Stellenbosch University, a post-graduate certificate in Economics, planning and education from The University of Witswasernd and other short courses.

Steenkamp is currently reading for her Doctor in Philosophy (PhD) from Rhodes University in Makhanda, formerly known as Grahamstown. “Quite a challenge to keep so many balls in the air but I love every moment of the frustration,” admitted Steenkamp.
With an impeccable teaching career and immense exposure to the education field, Steenkamp has also taught in Tsumeb for two years and has spent the best years of her life in the northern parts of the country where she served in different positions for 18 years before her appointment as ED, a position she has served for the past five years. 
“I worked in the then Ondangwa west region as a school counsellor, and then as a senior school counsellor, became a deputy in the Ohangwena region, held that position for three years before being promoted as the deputy director of education in that region,” she mentioned.

“Growing up, we all have aspirations, I knew that I wanted to work with different cultures, to be exposed to people, food, tradition, heritage. Learning about people is something that I aimed for and dreamt about. I finally did that when I spent those years in the northern central regions of the country,” stated Steenkamp.
While travelling, be it business or pleasure, Steenkamp always goes for walks, eats a variety of food, visit cathedrals, and look at art.

What I would tell a 
10-year-old Sanet
Steenkamp said she would tell her 10-year-old self to seek the presence of God. “Be it at night, during the day, in nature, the people around us, in our thoughts and words and actions. If we continuously seek that presence as adults, we are guided and embrace specific virtues and values and to me, these are across ages. Honesty, integrity and to serve, that would be my message to 10-year-old Sanet,” concluded Steenkamp.

Pet peeves
“I can’t stand arrogant people and those who are judgmental, I have been subjected to a lot of judgment and criticism but I also believe that I don’t live by the praises of people. I will not die by the criticism of others. I am open to learning and constructive criticism,” said Steenkamp.
Self-reflection is something Steenkamp values and appreciates as it moulds her into a better person. 
“Reflexivity for me is quite important but it’s annoying when a person can be ego –considerate about the needs and wishes of others and push for hidden agendas. 

Family time
After overseeing the functions of her ministry, she takes off the ED hat and starts with the household chores. 
“I am an avid reader and my husband loves to be surrounded by people, he loves playing dominoes and he is good at it, so there is always either us going to our friends’ places or them coming over for a lekker pooitjie kos enjoying conversation with family and friends,” she said.
“There is nothing as therapeutic as standing in your kitchen, washing dishes and overlooking cars driving down the street while already contemplating on how your day is going to be. I love plants, although my husband says he is the one who ends up watering them.”

Eating the frog
Steenkamp said one firm belief she has is to do something unpleasant, she calls it eating the frog.
She said: “I call it eating the frog and I do it in the morning, getting the most unpleasant yet crucial and necessary task out of the way, be it a phone call that I need to make or specific letters that need to go out or attending to something that requires my undivided attention.
“It is mandatory most of the times, for Steenkamp, to leave the office two hours after everyone has left. “This gives me time to catch up on admin, especially if I had a lot of consultations or meetings and so forth.”

2020-07-27  Paheja Siririka

Tags: Khomas
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