PRESIEDNT Hage Geingob during the commissioning of Operation Sida Di/Goan, which is aimed at repairing broken furniture to be re-used in schools in the Kunene Region expressed his delight with the initiative
Operation Sida Di/Goan was initiated by Kunene regional Governor, Marius Sheya, in December 2018 and the President travelled to Kamanjab on Friday to officially inaugurate the project that uses the skills of Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology students to repair broken chairs, desks and beds used daily by school going children. Sida Di/Goan translates to ‘Our Children, Our Responsibility’.
During his keynote address he urged the governors of the 13 other regions in Namibia to take note of what is achievable and to emulate Sheya’s example.
The regional governor said the 12 NIMT students taking part in the programme has repaired a total of 2 000 school tables, 2 000 chairs and 216 beds for hostel dwellers, which were all broken and discarded at different school yards in Kamanjab.
Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, vowed to adjust the ministry’s budget to accommodate the programme in all 14 regions of the country.
Dr. Geingob said the initiative is extraordinary because it bypasses purchasing new equipment and cuts costs.
The keynote address by President Geingob at the official launch of Operation Sida Di/Goan reads as follows:
During my inaugural statement on March 21, 2015, I announced that “our first priority will be to declare all-out war on poverty and concomitant inequality. Our focal point will be to address inequality, poverty and hunger and that will involve looking at a range of choices of how to go about tackling this issue.”
Tackling the burning issues of poverty and inequality involves the deployment of a myriad of measures and of the most fundamental of these, is education. In a world characterized by an ever-changing global economy, where technological advancements and globalization are the realities of the times, the investment in human capital has become increasingly important. In fact, without capacitating our young people with the skills necessary to succeed, we will send them into a future of perpetual poverty and economic hardship.
The importance of education has never been lost on the African people. Even the founding fathers of Pan Africanism and the African independence movement knew that education was not only a tool to break the shackles of colonialism, but also a guarantor of national sovereignty and development. It is for this reason that the Founding Father of Tanzania, Julius Mwalimu Nyerere said, “Education is not a way to escape poverty, it is a way of fighting it.” Education is therefore, the most potent weapon in our arsenal, in our all-out war against poverty.
Government has always prioritized education, identifying it as the key to the advancement of our national development agenda. Over the past 29 years, government has made significant investments into improving education in Namibia. Education, continues to receive the largest allocation in our National Budget. Even in the midst of an economic downturn, government has demonstrated commitment to prioritizing education, by allocating 13,8 billion Namibian dollars to the sector in the current 2019/2020 fiscal budget – a 4.3% increase from the 2018/2019 budget.
Despite our concerted efforts to prioritize investment in education, we are aware that there is still much that needs to be done to ensure all our learners have equal access to education. Challenges become more profound in rural areas, especially in a region like Kunene, characterized by vast areas and remote locations. These are factors that hamper the delivery of quality education.
Historical structural imbalances have perpetuated inequality, which is exacerbated in rural areas. Many of our schools in the rural communities are disproportionately disadvantaged, often times lacking access to basic infrastructure such as water, electricity and information & communications technology. This has placed many learners at a serious disadvantage.
The challenge of rectifying this dilemma is huge and requires the collaboration of various stakeholders including government, the private sector, local communities and development partners. Government cannot singlehandedly address all education related challenges countrywide. The only way for us to assist our learners is through the Harambee spirit and I believe this is what has inspired the “Friends of Education” initiative, launched by the Minister of Education – Hon. Katrina Hanse Hirmawa. We are all required to hold hands, in ensuring all learners have equal access to high quality education.
Poverty in this case is not only a lack of financial resources, but it is also ‘poverty of the mind’, caused by the lack of access to information and opportunity. Ensuring equitable access to education therefore, is the solution.
It is for this reason that I have travelled to Kamanjab, to support this initiative, which captures the spirit of Harambee. Spearheaded by the Honourable Governor of Kunene, Operation Sida di /Goan is a significant step towards solving the education related problems in our rural areas. Instead of complaining about problems, stakeholders have come together to identify solutions that can help to mitigate some of the challenges facing our schools and learners.
I urge all governors, councilors, business people and farmers around the country, to pursue similar initiatives in your regions. Let us identify opportunities for change and commence a national drive to improve the conditions of our schools.
I commend you Comrade Governor for the sterling job you have done in conceptualizing this initiative which I believe, will go a long way in improving the school-going experience of our learners in the Kunene region and yielding cost savings to Government. I also commend all stakeholders who have heeded the Governor’s clarion call to aid and support to this project.
Through, Operation Sida Di/Goan, we are not only proving our continuous commitment to providing education to our learners, but also proving that the Harambee spirit is alive and well among our people. Let us hold hands, for quality education, for a future of opportunities and economic equality, for a Namibian House defined by prosperity, interpersonal harmony, peace and political stability.