About 67% percent of San Children in Namibia enrol in school, of which only a mere one percent complete secondary school.
Within the san community, san girls are said to be more prone to dropping out of school due to factors such as cultural discrimination in schools where san learners are found to be a minority, they are then often bullied by their peers and at times teachers.
Early child marriage also plays a role in why san girls often leave school at an early stage because they are often pressurised by their families to get married soon after the start menstruating.
Distances from schools as well influences the increase in san girls not enrolling into schools as finding means to get to schools located far away from their homes which are located in remote areas.
The Embassy of Finland in Namibia together with Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO) dance troupe recently established a San Matter Project (San Girls Camp) that helps assist with keeping the san girl child in school.
The project which is headed into its second phase has received a kind donation of N$ 1.5 million from the embassy which will build on the previous phase that took place in 2016 and early 2017. It will continue to address the factors causing the increase of school dropout rate of san children.
The Director of OYO, Philippe Talavera in an interview with this publication noted that the project has helped the Finnish Embassy and OYO prepare a series of targeted interventions for san girls found in the Ohangwena, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions.
He explained that the project that currently exists in twelve schools in each of the three regions, educates the girls on child marriages, sexual health, personal hygiene and the importance of formal education.
“It also includes a five-weeks training program of local san youth groups that is followed by a tour to all the schools with the aim to establish exchange programs for school managers to brainstorm on how to make their schools san friendly” he said.
Talavera highlighted that unfortunately with each phase only a set number of san girls are invited to take part in the camp as funds are not readily available to accommodate many of them.
“Such programs can be costly as schools hosting san girls are often located in very remote areas which are difficult to access.
However it is vital that we try and bring the service to the girls and reach them where they live and where they school” noted Talavera.
He further explained that out of 28 girls who attended the first camp who all pledged to enroll in school in 2018. Twenty seven of them returned to school in 2018.
“This 96 percent re-enrolment rate is extremely promising. 19 of the girls (70 percent) were promoted to the next grade while 8 will be repeating their grade in 2018. Again the 70% promotion rate is extremely encouraging” said Talavera.
He further explained that one of the girls who had attended the camp not only re-enrolled in school but also received a bursary to attend the prestigious Vision School in the Kavango region.
“We cannot take all the credit for her achievements because it is first and foremost her own achievement. She deserved the bursary as she had worked very hard and is a bright girl” noted Talavera.
Talavera urged fellow san girls to continue working hard and to take the success of those that have received bursaries as motivation to excel in their educational endeavours. “No matter where you are from or which ethnic group you belong to note that you have the ability to succeed provided you continue work hard and commit to your education” he highlighted.