Chinese-built school brings education to 600 children in Namibia

WINDHOEK, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- About 600 children from the San community of Namibia have a chance of getting an education after the inauguration of a primary school built by the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF).

The 1-million-U.S-dollar school was built at Tallismanus settlement in Namibia's eastern region of Omaheke, about 414 kilometers from the capital Windhoek.

There are just about 27,000 San people in Namibia today despite them being the oldest inhabitants of the region.

Omaheke region has more than 8,000 San people, according to the 2011 population census.

The San has the lowest literacy rate at 23 percent in Namibia.

Most of the San still lead nomadic lives while their children do not attend school because either there are no schools in their areas or the parents do not see the reason of sending their children to school.

Available statistics from the 2011 census show that only one in five San children attends school, largely because of discrimination and historical prejudices.

The CYDF is a Chinese non-governmental organization that works with disadvantaged communities through its arm, the Hope Schools Project.

Yan Shi, the CYDF's Hope School (Disaster Relief) Department Director, told Xinhua Friday in Windhoek that the school is the biggest under the Hope Schools Project in Africa at the moment.

The construction of the school started last year in October.

The school that sits on an area measuring about 1,100 square metres was constructed by the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group Co. Ltd (AFECC).

It comprises 12 general classrooms; an outdoor area for public activities and auxiliary buildings; a teachers' general office, and a principal's office,

There is also one natural classroom, one music classroom, one library, corresponding bathrooms and closets, and student desks and chairs for classrooms and executive type desks and chairs for offices.

The main outdoor works includes a single basketball court, one straight running track and roads as well a fence.

The Chinese Ambassador to Namibia, Xin Shunkang, who handed over the school to Namibia's education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa Thursday, said China was committed to the development relationship with Namibia.

"The areas of culture, education, public health and agriculture are among the focus areas of the China-Namibia bilateral relationship. As such, the handing over of the completed Tallismanus Primary School to the line ministry is indeed a major step in realizing cooperation in these areas," said Xin.

Hanse-Himarwa said the construction of the school will go a long way in realizing the Namibian government's commitment to ensure that no Namibian child is taught under a tree or in a shed.

She also said Namibia will strive to uphold partnerships in development projects with China.

"We will continue knocking on the doors of our development partners as we strive to ensure that our citizens are accorded all the basic services they require. An educated nation is a wealthy nation, as such our priority ratings on education are very high as a government," she said.

Yan said Omaheke region was chosen for the school after four years of evaluating regions.

"We visited many areas looking for a proper site. It took us four years to settle for Omaheke because of the students' eagerness to learn as well as the low economic activities," Yan said.

Omaheke is home to 70,800 people, according to the 2011 population census.

The construction of the school followed a memorandum of understanding signed between the Namibian education ministry and the youth foundation in 2011.

Yan said they have also funded the construction of 22 schools in four other African countries -- Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda.