My Assignment

So what am I actually doing over here in Namibia? Some basics about my Namlife:

Location: I live and work in Luderitz, Namibia, a small coastal town in southwestern Namibia. It's a very remote place, with one road in/out and the nearest town 3 and a half hours away, and the other three sides surrounding it being restricted diamond mining area, ocean, and desert.

Primary Project: I teach Grade 6 English and BIS, which is the equivalent of library class, at Diaz Primary School, the biggest of the three government primary schools in Luderitz. My school has 970 learners from Pre-Primary [kindergarten] to Grade 7. It is in the Benguela location, and learners come from this location, a couple other nearby locations, as well as the informal settlements, which are called Area 7 and Amilema, and are primarily composed of shacks.  I teach four sections, each close to 40 learners. Learners receive 7 periods of English a week, and one of BIS --> I teach 32 of 40 available periods a week.

Secondary Activities: I have decided to focus my attention on developing other aspects of the school, in addition to one community project.
  • I have spent most of my free time working on getting the school library back up and running. As of now, I'm supervising learner-prefects who run the library during the week and making sure learners are taking care of the books - after this I will start applying to get more books. 
  • I am a facilitator of a girls group for learners from the Luderitz community, along with about 5 other Namibians. They are Upper Primary [Grade 5-7] learners, most of whom attend Diaz Primary. This year the interest shown by learners has been out of control, and it has gone from a group of 15 to close to 40! We talk about a lot of different topics, and hearing the opinions of these girls is really inspiring.
  • I am one of the facilitators for the Ministry of Education's Window of Hope program, which is offered to Grades 4-7 [not a required class].  It basically helps boost self-esteem and address the emotions of learners in the presence of HIV/AIDS. 
  • I am on the Luderitz Shelter House committee, which has been meeting to raise funds and develop a space to house orphans and vulnerable children as well as abused women. This project has encountered some roadblocks, and is a little slower going these days, but hopefully the shelter house will be a reality, as it is definitely needed in this town.
  • Goal Projects: getting the computer lab back up and running for IT classes, world map project, school-based community recycling project
Cultures: In Luderitz, the majority of people here are Owambo, coming from the northern part of the country. What does this mean at school? My learners speak English as [more often than not] their third language, behind Oshiwambo and Afrikaans - which used to be the unifying language of the country before independence, and is still the language in Luderitz that most teachers revert to if the children do not understand or the teachers want to make a point. Interestingly, learners are not given the choice to study Oshiwambo, rather they learn Afrikaans in addition to English.

From a long time ago:
This information was included in my invitation:

Country: Namibia
Program: Secondary and Upper Primary Education Project
Job Title: English Teacher
Orientation Dates: August 21-22, 2011
Pre-Service Training (in Namibia): August 23, 2011 – October 15, 2011*
Dates of Service: October 16, 2011 – October 15, 2013*
*dates subject to change

History of the Program:
Since the opening of Peace Corps Namibia in 1990, more than 1,200 Volunteers have served in the thirteen educational regions of Namibia as primary and secondary teachers of mathematics, science and English. There are currently approximately 130 Peace Corps Volunteers in the education and health sector. The Secondary and Upper Primary project assists the Ministry of Education in its attempt to address the following issues, problems, and needs:
  • Enhance the proficiency level of English as the medium of instruction in the Namibian education system
  • Improve and implement relevant secondary and upper primary education curriculum, exams, and resource materials
  • Enhance the knowledge of teachers and students in environmental education, HIV/AIDS and life skills by integrating it into English, math and science classes
  • Assist Namibian schools to establish, maintain, or upgrade and use new school libraries, labs, and other essential educational resources
  • Improve and expand access to innovative information technology for both learners and teachers
  • Assist the Education Ministry's efforts with gender issues, especially in terms of the high dropout ratio of females at the secondary level

Location of Job:
Peace Corps Education Volunteers are placed in schools throughout Namibia in all 13 regions of the country. Peace Corps places Volunteers in either upper primary, junior secondary [middle school], or senior secondary [high school]. Peace Corps Volunteers are placed in a variety of school settings. Some placements may be in schools with few physical resources, in remote settings, and with a shortage of qualified teachers. Peace Corps/Namibia also supports schools that are well equipped, but have teacher shortages. You should come prepared to accept either of these assignments.

Training for Your Job:
Before being sworn-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will participate in an intensive eight-week training program. Your training will be composed of several parts: technical, language/cross-culture, health maintenance, safety and security, and the role of the Volunteer in development. The bulk of the training addresses acquiring a required level of language skills. During training you will live with individual host families.

Living Conditions:
In the first six weeks of your service, every Volunteer will live with a Namibian host family. This experience will present you an opportunity to firstly connect on a personal level with at least one family in your community and secondly will help introduce you to the larger community. In very rare cases the host family may not have all the facilities required to host you for the entire duration of your service. Should this be the case, an alternative accommodation will be arranged for you with another host family or you will have your own private accommodation on the school grounds.
Housing conditions vary according to the resources of the area. You may be living in a traditional house, or western style housing, consisting of a two bedroom, furnished house. Most do have running water or electricity.