Namibia is a country plagued by high alcohol consumption which has devastating effects on the population. As claimed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Namibia has the sixth highest consumption of alcohol per capita in Africa, with inhabitants drinking close to 10 litres of pure alcohol per year.
It is estimated that over half of Namibia’s adults consume on average 10 litres of alcohol per week and many in Namibia are outspoken about the link between the high alcohol consumption and the high number of women and children being raped, murdered and physically abused in their homes.
Subsequently, because of alcohol abuse, parents are unable to
properly care for their children and provide them with a safe home. As a result, many children run away from home to live in the streets where they often turn to alcohol and synthetic drugs to escape their reality.
The schools in Gochas in the Hardap region of Namibia have witnessed a spike in the number of students dropping out of school and conducted a survey to study the phenomenon between 2008 and 2014. The survey clearly concludes that the number of drop-outs is increasing year by year and during the examined six years, the number of drop-outs increased by about 300%.
Mrs. B.E Higoam is a life skill educator, classroom teacher and counsellor in Gochas and attributes the majority of the drop-outs to the following reasons:
– The students are disconnected from their families, school and lack positive prospects of life and instead turn to alcohol, drugs, gang crimes and often get pregnant in their teens, as such they don’t see any reason to attend school.
– There is no involvement from parents to encourage their children to attend school, the families often suffer from economic problems which can cause bullying in school and because of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Namibia, the children often have to put school aside to take care of their family members.
– Most of the students are orphans and as a result lack support in almost every aspect of life which has detrimental effects on their education.
In 2015, one of the school directors in the Hardap region of Namibia, named Theo Paulina Goliath, contacted an international NGO called Shoot4Change to raise awareness of the acute and ongoing issue of the high number of early school drop-outs in the region. Theo Paulina shared that around 90% of the students at her school are victims of either or both physical and sexual abuse in their homes. This coupled with poverty, early pregnancies, and lack of parental supervision is believed to be some of the main reasons for the high drop-out rates.
Namibia officially became independent in 1990 and since then the government has invested billions of dollars to provide education for all. Even though the government makes efforts to update the curriculum to ensure quality education, the number of school drop-outs keeps increasing. The latest available statistics issued by the Management Information System (EMIS), shows that 10, 466 Namibian pupils quit their studies prematurely in 2012.
At N. Mutschuana Primary School, where Theo Paulina is teaching, they estimate that 99% of the pupils are at risk to drop out of school at an early age due to poverty and an unstable family / home situation with drop-out rates fluctuating between 20 and 40 percent annually.
The failure rate at the junior secondary level of education, caused by the above-mentioned social factors remains alarming and out of the pupils that remain in school, only 1 to 5 percent proceed to the upper secondary level of education. Failure to complete the primary and secondary levels of education, not only limits the future and opportunities of the youth but also has a significant impact on the state due to the increase of unemployment and dependency on government grants.
Theo Paulina’s proximity to the issue has sparked her dream to establish a children’s home in Gochas for the pupils in need, in an effort to create a safe space for those most in need. She also stresses the urgency of the project as the situation is so dire that soon there will not be any students left in school to help.
After a joint trip between Foundawtion and Shoot4Change to Gochas, the urgent need for our involvement became apparent and it was decided that we will build a children’s home for 25 girls and 25 boys where they can eat, sleep, play and study, faw away from the mistreatment and harassment that they are currently subjected to. Foundawtion is working together with Theo Paulina to fulfil her dream by helping her establish an association that will care for the children most in need and since Theo Paulina has already identified the 50 children at risk to drop out of school because of their situation at home and in school, the urgency for us to complete the children’s home is very apparent.
During the Namaqua Kalahari Children’s Home project, Foundawtion will stay true to our values by respecting and integrating the locals in the construction process which will be an opportunity to share knowledge and generate jobs for the people of Gochas.