Gifted Education Awareness Week – Namibia


I would like to thank Roya Klingner from the Global Center for Gifted Education for inviting me to blog as a part of Gifted Education Awareness Week in Namibia.

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Namibia is a young nation which only gained its independence 30 years ago. It is a large but sparsely populated country located on the southwest coast of Africa. Namibia’s many natural resources include diamonds, uranium, and zinc (see reference) and recently discovered off-shore oil reserves. “Unfortunately, the country’s high per capita GDP, relative to the region, hides one of the world’s most unequal income distributions.” (reference) Fewer than 33% of its students complete grade 10. The USAID reports unemployment rates as high as 40% to 50%. Yet even in this less than perfect environment, there exist teachers who are motivated to identify and instruct gifted learners.

One organization, Namibian Dreams (website) founded by two aid workers in the country aptly describes the situation, “[There are a] saddening number of cases where children who had obvious potential found themselves demoralized by circumstances -- disease, poverty, or familial strife, to name just a few examples -- and resigned to a life without any hope for future educational or professional advancement. Far too many children in Namibia are prohibited from realizing all the possibilities available to similarly gifted children in more developed parts of the world. That does not mean they have any less potential than these more privileged children, only that some work is required to make the most of this potential.”

In a report from CfBT Education Trust on Early Childhood Care (found here), obstacles to providing quality education in southern Africa – including Namibia – were delineated. Many aid organizations seek to help the region, but “joint approaches are often cumbersome affairs, and organized largely by donors with little local ownership.” Furthermore, cultural differences affect how outside contributions are viewed by the indigenous population. “Although culture is always hard to define and locate, from a number of perspectives the North American/European emphasis on individuality, competition and consumerism is deeply antithetical to more communal ways of living and to respectful treatment of the environment. …African states…have produced their own African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which stresses the responsibilities children owe to their families and society and the obligation of the child ‘to respect his parents, superiors and elders at all times and to assist them in case of need’.” In short, cultural attitudes too often hinder awareness and consideration for the needs of gifted education in the region.

Gifted children exist in all regions and countries of the world. In virtually every setting, raising awareness of their existence is the first step in providing for their education and well-being. The next step is to ensure that teachers are provided with knowledge of how to meet the needs of these extraordinary children and then to implement appropriate educational programs. Thanks to the Global Center for Gifted Education (website) for taking the important first step! 

Comments

  1. It is funny I very much agree with this I have a daughter who is seen and deemed to be gifted here in the United Kingdom and based just on the regional area I am at within the United Kingdom means there are no real support areas available to me. They are just open in the major cities in the United Kingdom and soemtimes you can not afford to go and travel to these different locations for support. We have tried setting up local support but the funding is not available to sustain this type of club.

    So this is not a national difference we have here it is purely a different understanding between different regions within the UK.

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