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Thursday 24 January 2019
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St Boniface College: a model of inclusivity in an elitist society

About 30 km east of Rundu Town, the capital of the Kavango East Region, lies the Shambyu Roman Catholic Mission. The now famous St. Boniface College is situated on the grounds the Shambyu Roman Catholic Mission. On its turn, the Shambyu Roman Catholic Mission is located at the village of Utokota. During the weekend of 4-6 August 2017, the Shambyu Roman Catholic Mission grounds was a hive of activity. Two divergent events took place. One was a funeral for a well-known resident of Utokota village and the other was the pre-admission tests for the grade 10 learners for next year. I happened to be at one of the events, namely, the pre-admission tests. As I was walking on the well-ordered and neat grounds of the school, several themes came to my mind, which included but not limited to the following: The significant contribution of the Roman Catholic Church to social and economic progress in Namibia; Parents doing their best in search for hope and future for their children; St. Boniface College being a model of inclusivity in an elitist society; The faculty of the school dominantly consisting of non-Namibian nationals.

The significant contributions of the Roman Catholic Church to social and economic progress in Namibia. Whatever achievements, such as consistently being the top achiever in grade 10 and grade 12 results in Namibia, St. Boniface College can boasts about; it has to be seen within the context of the presence of the Roman Catholic Church in Namibia. The school is deeply engrained in the Catholic Church dogma and belief system. Credit has to be given to those, living and deceased, who originally coined the idea for a school that, within its 19 years of existence, became famous and attained the status of excellence.
Parents doing their best in search for hope and future for their children It was encouraging to observe that despite these times of economic downturn, prudent fiscal discipline and tightening of belts, parents, both rich and poor (not sure about the poor part based on the cars on display that day), are still in search of hope and the elusive better future for their children. The parents who brought their children that day exemplified the belief that investment in education might still be one of the most viable investment. The human soul yearns for goodness, notwithstanding in what form and shape that goodness comes. In this case, goodness is epitomised by a school that could be an exemplar of what the world is supposed to be.
St. Boniface College: a model of inclusivity in an elitist society  I could count, at least, ten languages being spoken on the grounds of St. Boniface College that day. It included English, Afrikaans, Otjiherero, Oshiwambo, Lingala, Shona, Lozi, Rumanyo, Thimbukushu and Rukwangali. It could have been more. The diverse languages one could hear that day signifies the inclusive nature and international stature that the school has assumed. In these times of elitist and exclusive tendencies, tribalism and intolerant behaviours, it was refreshing to observe the oneness and togetherness of the human race and division and discrimination crumbling. One can just wish that the school could do more to accommodate the marginalised and the poorest of the poor in society. I do not know how but everything is possible where there is hope.
The faculty of the school dominantly consisting of non-Namibian nationals  Of all views expressed above, this one is the most troubling. I could observe that the majority teachers who were on duty that day seems to be (based on the vernaculars they spoke) from Zimbabwe and the religious sisters from India. I could not notice a single teacher from Namibia. These observations were troubling:  Why should it be that the faculty of a model school of excellence is entirely from outside Namibia. Does it imply that good school results and performance means having an international faculty? Does it suggest something about the level of and quality of the Namibian workforce? If the foregoing is yes, what does this tell us about Namibia’s human resource development, 27 years after independence?
The author, Matthias M. Ngwangwama, originally hails from the Kavango East Region. He matriculated in 1988 at Rundu Senior Secondary School. His educational qualifications include National Diploma in Accounting, a Bachelor of Technology in Accounting and Finance and MBA. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.




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