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Getting the Namibian child educated

2024-06-26  Paheja Siririka

Getting the Namibian child educated

About 8km outside Rundu lies an early childhood development centre, accommodating and instilling basic educational skills in about 45 pre-teens from different backgrounds.

Started by John Haimbili Haindere (26), a partially hearing-impaired graduate, the Parademic Academy caters to children with various disabilities, those with albinism, and those with learning difficulties.

“After graduating, I saw the need to set up such a centre, and I did that after getting money (N$5 000) from a pitch competition I won through UPSHIFT Namibia. I used that prize, and erected a small kambashu in 2022. I never looked back ever since,” said the passionate educator.

Launched by B2Gold Namibia in April 2021, UPSHIFT is a UNICEF programme designed to build capacity and create opportunities for young people. 

It combines leading approaches to youth and adolescent development, social innovation and entrepreneurship to empower marginalised youth and adolescents.

UNICEF acts as a convener with different government and private sector stakeholders, pooling their resources to attain these goals.

B2Gold’s support of UPSHIFT includes mentorship and coaching, and the provision of its Otjikoto Nature Reserve Education Centre as a venue and content resource.

The young graduate said he resonated with young Namibians with disabilities who face challenges accessing services they are entitled to.

“I can relate. While growing up, I remember not having a hearing device, and struggling to hear what people were communicating. They had to stand on my left side ,and speak loudly or shout for me to hear them, so everything I am being exposed to right now with my learners is something I never wish any children to go through,” he detailed.

Haindere told Youth Corner he teaches the learners sign language, braille and basic education courses, such as mathematics and other languages, but more needs to be done to continue rendering his free services to the community.

“I unfortunately didn’t complete my Sign Language lessons at the Andreas Haingura Kandjimi School because I was going through a lot at that time, and didn’t have enough funds as well. I would need capacity building and additional training in that. I am fortunate to have few teaching materials to keep the classes going, but I need parents’ involvement because that is paramount,” he said.

He added that parents need to be heavily invested and involved in their children’s education, especially those with disabilities.

“I create tailored learning plans for each learner, considering their unique needs, abilities and interests. This personalised approach ensures that every learner can progress at their own pace. Through group activities, plays and guided interactions, they learn to communicate, cooperate and build. I try to create and provide opportunities for physical activity through play and structured exercises, helping to improve motor skills, coordination and overall physical health,” Haindere said.

“I have learners with physical disabilities in the form of limp disorders and others. They need extra attention. Others have forms of disabilities that I have no specialties in. My source of information right now has been YouTube, but that again is not sufficient,” stated the soft-spoken academic.

He said the centre also assists three 12-year-olds with disabilities.

“Before embarking on this journey, I consulted the community, and there was a need for something like this centre. But I will do what I can with what I have. It is hard because you can’t ask for assistance without paying people. One way or the other, this project is going to expand, and I will make sure of that,” he said.

Haindere stated that a lot needs to be done, as the Parademic Academy is not yet registered, but he is working closely with the relevant entities, such as the youth and education ministries, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) and other stakeholders to realise the potential the centre will have in the education space and the region at large.

His next goal is to work closely with families to ensure continuity of care and learning to help families feel involved and empowered in their children’s education.

2024-06-26  Paheja Siririka

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