China's help boosts schools in Namibia
Education official says country has benefited greatly, and he hopes partnership will deepen
In addition to helping Namibia improve its infrastructure, the Chinese government has played a crucial role in improving the country's education sector by aiding the construction of schools.
Joseph Shikongo, a senior official in the department of physical planning of Namibia's Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, says the country has built three primary schools and one senior school, thanks to Chinese grants.
Before construction of the schools, students studied under trees, but today they happily study inside beautiful classrooms, Shikongo says.
"The construction of the schools has motivated the children to attend classes. They are also studying comfortably without concerns about rain and hostile winds," he says.
One of the primary schools was built at Tallismanus settlement in Namibia's eastern region of Omaheke, about 415 kilometers from Windhoek, the capital.
The Tallismanus school, which has 600 students, was built by the China Youth Development Foundation, a Beijing-based nongovernmental organization.
Tallismanus settlement is inhabited by the nomadic San community, whose children don't usually enroll in school. The school consists of 12 general classrooms, an outdoor area for public activities, auxiliary buildings, a general office for teachers and the principal's office.
China's help boosts schools in Namibia
The other key school is Otjomuise Secondary School in Windhoek. The state-of-the-art school is for grades eight to 12 and can accommodate 690 students.
The $9.8 million school is equipped with classrooms, sports facilities, a caretaker's house, a multipurpose hall, a three-story hostel, laboratories, specialized classrooms, housing for teachers, an athletics track and a pavilion.
Shikongo says the school, on which construction began in August 2014, was opened in March 2016.
"The school is designed and modeled on the latest state-of-the-art design and technology. We are grateful to the Chinese government for helping us to construct such a facility, and we hope that our partnership will continue to deepen," he says.
The Chinese government is also sponsoring the teaching of Mandarin in several classrooms in Namibian schools.
Shikongo says teaching Mandarin in the country will deepen the people-to-people relationship between Chinese and Namibians.
"Once we have Namibians who can fluently speak Mandarin, the communication between the two parties will be easier. This will also create friendship between Chinese workers at construction sites and the local communities," he says.
The two governments also signed an agreement for cooperation in education, under which the Chinese government will provide full scholarships to Namibian students each year and send Chinese professors and lecturers to teach in Namibia. In addition, China's Ministry of Education has donated laboratory and teaching facilities to the University of Namibia. According to the Chinese embassy in Namibia, China has provided various forms of financial assistance to the country, including grants, interest-free loans and interest-subsidized loans, since 1990.
China has also helped Namibia with the construction of a series of projects, such as the Windhoek Day Care Centre for Children and low-cost housing projects in Windhoek, Gobabis and Katima Mulilo.
This is in addition to two phases of an irrigation pumping station project in Aussenkehr, the drilling and equipping of boreholes in the Omusati region and Caprivi, and the Northern Tannery in Ondangwa.
China also assisted in the construction of part of the new State House and regional assembly buildings in Rundu and Outapi.
China also runs a tracking, telemetry and command station in the coastal town of Swakopmund. The construction of the station was completed in 2001, following an agreement signed in 2000 between the two governments.