LATE DECEMBER DEPARTURE ・ SCHOOL HOUSING OR HOST FAMILY ・ ENGLISH, MATH, SCIENCE, COMPUTER LITERACY, HEALTH
“Contrasting, beautiful Namibia,” sings the Namibian national anthem — and Namibia is indeed a land of contrasts and beauty, both natural and cultural. The environment ranges from the densely populated, palm-dotted plain of Ovamboland to the arid hills of the central highlands, and from the lush forest savanna of the Kavango and Zambezi to the dunes that roll the length of Namibia’s cold desert coast. Among its diverse population are pastoralists, subsistence farmers, and a growing urban middle class. Namibia boasts eleven national languages, of which most Namibians speak two or three. Although English is Namibia’s official language, it is the first language of very few Namibians.
For all its diversity, a spirit of cooperation characterizes Namibia. Today, just a short time since gaining independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia stands out as a country marked with remarkable progress and promise. This atmosphere of cooperation has allowed Namibia to concentrate its resources on basic needs, and education has been a top priority, garnering over 20 percent of the government budget annually.
Serving in Namibia since 1991, WorldTeach is proud to continue partnering with the Namibian Ministry of Education (MoE), a collaboration which has allowed us to send over 500 volunteers to the country since its independence. Over this span, WorldTeach volunteers have assisted the MoE in efforts to improve educational outcomes and ameliorate the inequalities of the Apartheid era.
Reforms to improve educational outcomes have included making English the medium of instruction from Grade 4 onwards, as well as supporting learner-centered pedagogy. Despite progress made since independence, Namibia’s need for volunteer teachers continues. Facing a shortage of qualified teachers, particularly those that can teach effectively in English as mandated by the MoE, WorldTeach volunteers serve in posts that otherwise go unfilled. Moreover, with an average HIV infection rate of between 15 and 20 percent, and a growing population, the strain on Namibia’s education system is increasing exponentially. Although living and working conditions in Namibia can be very demanding, the rewards of helping to build this invigorating new country through teaching abroad are tremendous.
Working as a teacher in Namibia has been an incredible experience thus far. I wasn’t sure what to expect prior to coming here, but I never expected to fall in love with my learners and with this amazing country.
As a WorldTeach Namibia volunteer, you serve as an English, health, computer, or mathematics and/or science teacher in a wide range of schools, primary or secondary, rural or urban. You are responsible for 20-25 hours of classroom teaching, including lesson preparation and grading. In addition to teaching at least one core subject (English, math or science), you likely have additional elective courses to teach, such as physical education, art, health, or working in the school library or computer room.
In addition to your subject teaching, you are also encouraged to serve as an HIV/AIDS Resource Teacher should you be interested. As an HIV/AIDS Resource Teacher, you help facilitate HIV/AIDS awareness programs, such as clubs or activities that build life skills and empower learners to make healthy decisions, as well as working with teachers and administrators to integrate HIV/AIDS awareness into subject teaching and throughout the school.
Outside of the classroom, you are able to run secondary projects, such as teaching extra English classes, coaching sports, starting art clubs, developing the school library or computer room, or establishing scholarship funds to help learners access further education, just to name a few. You have a prime opportunity to contribute your skills and interests to the broader needs of your school and community.
The majority of your cohort is placed at government schools in rural areas where there is a great shortage of qualified teachers. Occasionally, there are placements at private schools as well as church-affiliated schools, both of which follow the Ministry-approved curriculum.
While you are likely to be the only WorldTeach volunteer at your school, there may be other WorldTeach volunteers in the town or region, or teachers from other international volunteer organizations (e.g. Peace Corps) at your school or nearby. Currently, volunteers are clustered in the northern, central, and southern regions of Namibia, but placements can adjust from year to year as per the needs of the Ministry of Education and its schools.
Host schools are responsible for volunteer accommodation, and almost exclusively, volunteers live in government-provided housing, typically having 2-3 furnished bedrooms, running water, electricity, and fully-equipped kitchens, that you may share with Namibian colleagues and/or with other volunteers. In some instances, a school will identify a host family to provide your accommodation, but they too provide you with your own room, with government-provided furniture and cooking facilities. Occasionally the Field Director will identify a placement in need of a teacher without these amenities in more rural communities and would be in touch with you about your comfort level with such living arrangements before finalizing any placement.
Namibians, regardless of cultural group, uniformly love meat. The staples are beef, chicken, goat, and mutton. Barbecues, locally called braais, are the focus of most festive occasions. Depending on the region, other staples include porridge, spinach, and sour milk. Vegetarian and other diets can be accommodated.
The cost of the Namibia Year program is $2,490 through grants from the Kristin Linnea Skvarla Foundation with additional support from the Ministry of Education in Namibia. This includes visa, housing, monthly living stipend, supplemental overseas health and emergency evacuation insurance, orientation and additional training conferences, 24-hour in-country field director support, access to a remote teacher quality coordinator, and alumni support and networking.
Many volunteers are able to successfully fund raise all or a significant portion of their volunteer commitment. Please refer to our fundraising page for more information about fundraising possibilities.
Volunteers in the Namibia Year program must:
- Be a native-level English speaker
- Have a bachelor’s degree by the time of the program’s departure
- Be between the ages of 21 and 74
- Be highly flexible, mature, and have a genuine interest in teaching