OKAHANDJA: A group of 35 Peace Corps volunteers were sworn in at Okahandja on Thursday.
The volunteers will be deployed to towns and villages throughout Namibia for the next two years, and will focus their efforts on helping Namibians in the areas of small enterprise development, health and education.
The volunteers will also promote youth entrepreneurship; helping Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) improve their operations, and teach financial and marketing skills to aspiring entrepreneurs.
This is the 36th group of volunteers to come to Namibia from the United States of America (USA) through the programme.
Welcoming the volunteers to Namibia, the Regional Director of Education in the Karas Regional Council Johannes Hoeseb said Namibia has benefited immensely from the 24-month socio-economic development work delivered by the USA’s Peace Corps programme participants ever since the expansion of the programme to Namibia shortly after Independence.
He added that the quality of the input, output and outcomes in terms of teaching and learning, as well as the subsequent mastery of prescribed basic competencies in mathematics and physical science and English language proficiency, improved at a lot of schools where Peace Corps volunteers were placed, to such an extent that some schools moved up in both the regional and national rankings.
“Regrettably, there were also Peace Corps volunteers who not only were vocally critical of the Namibian philosophy of learner-centered education, but who went as far as opting for selecting some prescribed themes, topics and basic competencies that they deemed essential for coverage during an academic year, and totally failed to cover some topics, themes and basic competencies,” Hoeseb noted.
He warned the volunteers to steer clear of politics, as well as tribal, ethnic and racial conflicts.
“Be careful that your actions do not attract persons harbouring a particular political sentiment, whilst simultaneously creating a wedge between yourself and those whose political persuasions you do not share,” he stated.
He also advised the volunteers to endeavour to win over the hearts and minds of the people amongst whom they are going to live and work by showing respect for their cultures, traditional practices, customs, languages and religious belief systems.