55 New Peace Corps Volunteers arrive in Namibia

55 new Peace Corps volunteers will fly in to Namibia at 14:20 on Sunday, August 9th 2015 at the Hosea Kutako International Airport in Windhoek. Their mission will be to help Namibia bolster its education sector. Peace Corps is a volunteer program of the United States government through which American volunteers, young and old, serve overseas for about 2 years to offer technical assistance that helps a country build its capacity to meet the needs of its people. Volunteers are assigned to all 14 regions across Namibia and each volunteer works within a community alongside Namibian counterparts.

History of the Peace Corps in Namibia: The first group of 14 Volunteers arrived in Namibia on September 9, 1990, less than six months after the country gained independence. By January 1991, the program was in full operation.

The primary role of these early Volunteers was to teach English, in support of the new government’s declaration of English as the country’s official language. Classroom teachers also assisted in the transition from Afrikaans to English as the language of instruction in upper primary and secondary schools. In the early 1990s, Volunteers also provided assistance to drought relief efforts and began to work in youth development offices.

The number of Volunteers peaked in the late 1990s, reaching a high of almost 150 people. This spike was largely driven by a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Health and Social Services requesting Health volunteers to work with communities in the area of HIV prevention.

Today, about 120 Volunteers work as primary and secondary school teachers, resource teachers, community health volunteers and Small Business volunteers.

History and Future of Peace Corps Programming in Namibia: Peace Corps/Namibia has made substantial contributions to the reform of the educational system in teacher training, classroom teaching, and subject matter support to teachers, especially in English, mathematics, and science.

In addition, Volunteers have provided direct support to parents and other community members to increase both school and community materials and human and financial resources. Activities that have become part of Volunteers’ primary or secondary duties include recreational sports, library development, girls clubs, HIV/AIDS awareness activities, environmental conservation projects, adult literacy, and community development.

Since 2002, Peace Corps/Namibia has supported the government of Namibia’s efforts to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS through more effective educational programming and youth outreach and community-based activities. In addition, Volunteers established Entrepreneurship Clubs for their learners; revamped businesses which are now fully managed and operated by entrepreneurship learners and created linkages between their schools and the business community.