The main aim of the workshops focused mainly on providing civic education for teachers in Namibia, as well as gaining feedback from teachers on what can be improved for the future within the educational sector and on the current Education Act, Act No.16 of 2001.
The facilitators who held the workshop were Mr. Patrick Sam and Ms. Lizette Ferris from the Namibia Institute of Democracy (NID), who were supported by Mr. Ian Dunne from HSF. Mr. Sam is the acting director of the NID, and is best known for his extensive experience as a consultant on youth, leadership, governance, and community development issues in Namibia. Ms. Ferris has been involved in previous facilitation workshops with HSF and NID, and is heavily involved in road safety awareness in Namibia.
The content within the civic education provided encompassed understanding how the Namibian state structures function, understanding social accountability as a practical tool, an overview of the constitution with a focus on its relevance to civic education. Also included were the importance of civic education in schools, and formulating individual civic education action plans that were relevant to the participant’s environment.
The workshops proved to be great successes, with the fundamental achievement being that participants learned how to change their mind-sets in relation to problems they were experiencing in their teaching environments and how to actively and constructively tackle them. Participants took also on board the fact that they could not just blame others, but they themselves were socially accountable to the learning environment. They along with the other stakeholders, both parents and learners, share that responsibility.
The Hardap Region itself is one of two pilot programme locations for the social accountability programme launched by the NID and the Rossing Foundation and financially supported by the European Union and UNICEF. The region stretches the entire width of Namibia from the Atlantic coast to Namibia’s eastern border.
The teachers expressed their surprise when they learned their rights under the Namibian constitution, and the state bodies which are responsible for school issues, and how they could be contacted. At the end of the workshops, the participant’s ability to prioritise their response strategy was improved through the individual and group action plans, with many giving feedback on how to improve the educational system.
Suggestions included the child being represented at all disciplinary sessions, school boards meeting once a month instead of once a term, and establishing sub-committees through the school board e.g. sub-committee for assisting learners with homework.
One of the key messages driven home by the co-facilitator Mr. Sam was that people must be socially accountable to themselves and to other stakeholders in education, and not simply to point the finger. Only by being socially accountable can people truly enact change together as a community.
The facilitators thanked the participants for what they described as one of their most enjoyable workshops to date. The participants also reciprocated by thanking the facilitators for their energy and commitment to the training and encouraged future workshops which are proving to be a great success.