Once a colony of Germany, and later South Africa, Namibia is a mixed bag of Southern African and European cultures and languages. This diversity is celebrated, despite the country’s modern struggles with political intervention.
English is the country’s official language, and although widely spoken, many people lack proper grammar and reading skills; Namibians often learn the commonly spoken Oshiwambo at home. Additionally, Namibia is home to beautiful scenery, comprised of a coast, deserts, and wildlife reserves. Experience the dynamism of Namibia’s natural sceneries as you assist students in the improvement of not only English proficiency, but also computer literacy and health education.
After the end of South African rule in 1988, the Namibian government made strides to create a more inclusive and integrated education system. English became the main language of instruction for students beginning in grade 4. However, failure and dropout rates remain high. Teachers are mostly needed in public schools.
In partnership with Ministry of Education in Namibia, WorldTeach offers a volunteer program that places teachers in rural schools. Volunteers will be placed in either a public, private, or religious school. Teachers instruct English, math, or science, but also have the option of teaching elective courses, such as art, physical education, health and computer classes.
Namibian HIV/AIDS rates are very high, with much of the population, especially in rural areas, lacking proper treatment. Volunteers have the chance to establish awareness or after-school programs at local schools, which can empower and education students to make healthy decisions in the future.
Private International Schools:
Located in Windhoek, the capital city, international schools will periodically hire teachers for all subjects. One example is the Windhoek International School, which follows the International Baccalauerate (I.B.) system. Keep in mind that international schools often hire those who hold a Namibian residence permit, in order to secure those teaching positions for several years.
When and Where to Look for Jobs:
Namibia’s largest city is Windhoek, the nation’s capital, where international schools are all primarily located. Although, it is in the rural areas where teachers are needed the most. As a volunteer, chances are high that you will be placed in a remote region. Other teachers may live in the same town or village, but you will likely be the only volunteer teacher at your school.
Volunteers and teachers need a TEFL certification. In addition, applicants must be a native English speaker and hold a bachelor’s degree.
Salary & Cost of Living:
Government-owned housing is provided for volunteers. These are typically 2-3 bedroom homes that have basic accommodations (running water, kitchen, etc.) for you and a few other volunteers. Homestays are another option for those who wish to get familiar with Namibian daily life. In some cases, primarily in impoverished, rural areas, there might be shortages of running water and electricity. However, past participants find that these types of challenging situations are extremely rewarding in the end.
Cost of living in Namibia is high, as most goods are imported, including oil, clothing, and some foods. However, volunteers receive a monthly stipend of around $350, which is a good amount for a month of meals and transportation. Since housing is usually compensated for teachers, daily costs will not be exceedingly high.
Classroom & Work Culture:
All students wear uniforms in Namibia. It is advised that you learn a little bit of the local language. By showing an interest in speaking in the students’ native tongue, they will reciprocate the effort, inside and outside of the classroom. Learn some Namibian greetings, as it will look very polite to students and their families.
You might find that you will be the only volunteer teacher at your school; placements are done this way in order to disseminate help throughout the country. Depending on the region and school, there might be a language barrier between you and the other teachers. However, interactions at work will help to improve the English language skills of your colleagues, not only your students.
Generally, in Namibia, race is a common topic of discussion. Yet, it is not a taboo issue and you will find that many Namibians are open to talking about race in a casual manner. It is definitely not as much of a contested issue as in neighboring South African nations.
Lastly, Namibians eat a lot of meat; vegetarians can be accommodated, but just be wary that meat is served at almost every meal.