18 February 2011 – report from Marjolein

Last Thursday, on 18 February 2011, I visited ‘Light for the Children’. I was very curious and a bit afraid of what I would find there. This visit would show me what profit my time and work there had yielded the school, and I felt a bit uncertain about this, because I foresaw that it was very difficult for my successor teacher to learn how to work with a new method, and also to accept some advice from a woman. When I arrived at the school where I had worked I got a warm welcome from some teachers and local volunteers from the community. Then suddenly I heard a loud noise from the classroom where I had taught my classes most of the time. The children were joyfully shouting my name and  running out of the classroom to give me a hug. I could see they had really enjoyed and appreciated my time with them here, and that my presence had been valuable for them. Since it had been difficult for me at times and had seemed to be only such a little contribution to solving their big problems I was not so sure of the change I had made. But being there once again, if only for a brief visit, I could see for myself how important it had been for them. That was such a good feeling! When I came into the classroom I saw Gerhard, the teacher, busy teaching the lesson about body parts from the Cool programme. As he showed me some homework papers the children had made, I was really impressed with the results! The teacher had definitely picked it up and is teaching English in a much better way than he used to do.

Warm greetings from Namibia, a very happy and thankful Dutchy

End report – February 2011

The school year in Namibia was over December last, the children had gone home, or stayed with family. A few children who have a house but no home still hang around near the school. So I did some games, creative work and a few activities of the “Cool” programme with them. We put together a booklet about transportation and learned the words in English going with this theme. I also spent a lot of time cleaning the cupboards, sorting out materials, writing teaching instructions and so on. Another important task was to give the teachers a small course on how to use the “Cool” programme. I also gave them a few exercises to practise the programme, but. much to my disappointment, only one teacher showed up the next day to talk about the exercises. One of the teachers was seriously ill, another one was busy organizing transport for children who were waiting somewhere in an empty school building  to go home and so on. I didn’t like school to finish  like that for them. So I did my best to give them some writing hints and some advice on letter writing. Luckily there is still a volunteer from Germany at the school, so he can keep an eye on them. I also made a file for other volunteers in which everyone can write what he/she has done and leave some useful hints for others. I also urged them to regularly check the progress of  the English language programme, and to spend enough time to correspond with their penpals of the Dutch school they are in touch with.

I am still in Namibia, but right now in another village. I heard that almost all the children were accepted as pupils at a regular primary school in the village of  Vergenoeg! That was great news! But then suddenly the news reached me that  nearly all of them had been sent back home. Now they are trying to find out why this has happened and looking for a way to get them back into school once again. I for one am looking for an opportunity to go to Gobabis to visit the teachers and children. I also want to go to the school in Vergenoeg to see how the children who are still there are doing. (the most promising children are still there, and I really want to give them my personal encouragement!)

Kind regards, Marjolein

November 2010 – Holiday in Namibia

Our school is closed now, we are having a holiday. The pupils have celebrated a genuine graduation day (see photo) and they have received their certificates. Many of them will go to primary school next year! I hope their parents will pay the small school fee to keep them at school. The children have learned a lot and made much progress, especially the kids who are somewhat older, they can now make correct sentences with to have and to be. We have done the Cool English at School programme: from colours to parts of the body and some pupils have also learned animal names.

We also participated in a penpal exchange with a Dutch school, so we sent and got letters to and from each other. That this was not always easy is obvious, but both sides enjoyed it a lot. With the 8-to-10-year-olds I did more basic things: they just copied texts from the blackboard and they had to learn it that way.

I have not completely finished work here yet. The next few weeks before my departure I will be busy making a file for my successor volunteers, so that they can continue what we have achieved so far. They can then check how the teachers are doing, when I have left and they can teach them how to work with the programme. I am also going to train the teachers some basic teaching skills like explaining the pupils how to do exercises instead of just leaving it to the pupils how to do them and to help them in case they have understanding problems. I also wish to help the teachers how to make good use of the Cool programme and so on and so forth.

Pictures of Marjolein’s work in Namibia can be viewed *here*

September 2010

My name is Marjolein de Bruijne and I am leaving for Namibia on 28 September 2010 next to start work at a small kindergarten in Gobabis. This kindergarten, Light for the Children, has had several classes with some older children for some time now, children who are brought up to the required standard so that they can be admitted to grade 3 of the regular educational system. They need to learn the basics of various school subjects first, because they are too old to be allowed to start in grade 1 and therefore they cannot go to school anymore at all. Only if they make a sufficient score for grade 3 can they finally be admitted to school. Then they will have better chances of a more promising future. Knowing English is extremely important for them since this is the teaching language at school. If their command of English is poor or even worse, then this will lead to soon being well behind at all other subjects.

Some 18 months ago I visited this kindergarten and stayed there for 10 days. Its aim is an excellent initiative. The teachers there spend a lot of time on teaching elementary knowledge of hygiene and care, which is extremely important. The senior pupils are given special assignments like food distribution to the younger children and talk tot hem on their conduct; this proves to be highly successful. However, I have also noticed the teachers do not always have the disposal of the right lesson materials nor do they always have the knowledge and the skills needed to teach the pupils e.g. arithmetic, language and English. The key figure in the organization of Light for the Children is Henk Olwage, and he told me the school would be much obliged if they could have access to a good course book for English and if somebody would be willing to introduce it to the teachers.

Well, I am more than willing to help them out here! I am looking forward to be engaged in teaching an intensive course at this school for 3 months and introduce the teachers and the pupils to working with  “Cool!”. My objective would be for the staff and the children to be able to continue working with “Cool!” on their own then. My hopes are that the pupils will be challenged to learn English in a pleasant way so that they can understand and speak it and some can even learn to write in English. After this period I am staying in Namibia at other places for another 2 or 3 months.  It would give me an opportunity of visiting the school again to see if – and how they are making progress.