Celebrating Multichoice Namibia’s 25th Anniversary with Sanet Steenkamp
Education is the Backbone of Our Economy
What is the importance of education?
There’s no doubt, if we want to develop a nation, education is the backbone. Every child is unique, every child has got their own learning pace and every child has got their own piece of talent that needs to be nurtured. That is the role of a teacher. I am a firm believer that education can turn things around.
Education can break the cycle of poverty. Education can break barriers. Education is not just about having a strong core curriculum. It’s not just having qualified teachers, education is also a calling and a passion. We need children that will be able to be part of the workforce in Namibia. People who can work and think analytically, think critically and act with decisiveness. That is what education can bring to the table and that’s why it’s so important.
What’s your philosophy in life?
Give everything you have. There is a lot that is beyond our control but, if all of us go to bed every night knowing that I have given my level best and I have worked today with integrity and I have adhered to strong work ethics, that’s what I believe in. Living and working with integrity.
I’ve realised that doing the right thing is actually very hard especially if you have to do it under circumstances that are constantly evolving but, that is what I vouch for and that is what I stand for.
Tell us about your journey with MultiChoice, your favorite moments, memories and highlights?
My family is Afrikaans speaking, so at night after a long day of English, we all enjoy Afrikaans television programmes, and learn and laugh and cry about it.
I also have the experience of MultiChoice being a great partner and actually sponsoring free educational bouquets to the Ministry in more than three hundred schools. You can just imagine except for entertainment and except for enriching lives, MultiChoice does much more for our learners. MultiChoice really helps us, in my view, to bridge the gap between the rural and the urban areas and the digital gap that is there. Radio might be open and available for everyone, but it’s not the same with print media. There are children who are exposed to television for the first time via the Resource Centres sponsored by MultiChoice.
How has MultiChoice contributed towards education and what is the importance of television in education?
Well you can imagine the generation that we are serving, the learner, the children, this is the generation that has embraced technology. This is the generation that is really, living in the digital age or space. Since the start of our partnership, more than 300 schools have fully equipped MultiChoice Resource Centres. Children have access to more than nine educational programs they can watch. Imagine children or even the teachers watching National Geographic Wild, Animal Planet, BBC, BBC World or BBC Knowledge- how that enriches their lives. I firmly believe and I’ve seen it, the children get to argue better, and it compliments our curriculum, which is outstanding.
Has the Ministry seen a great change in the learners since MultiChoice started sponsoring the MultiChoice Resource Centres? Have you seen any significant change in the students for example in the rural areas?
We have received a lot of positive feedback and that’s what is so encouraging. It is equipment that can be used, our children learn to debate issues and their listening skills has improved. The learners’ command of the English language has improved. They are learning new words they can add to their vocabulary. MultiChoice has helped our learners travel to places, experience different cultures and flavors through sight. I do it all the time. I travel with DStv in the comfort of my living room and it is fantastic.
Can you talk to us about the partnership between MultiChoice and the Ministry of Education, Arts & Culture?
The partnership started in 2004 and recently the Ministry of Education, Arts & Culture and MultiChoice signed a Memorandum of Understanding – integrating the media and especially technology, information technology into our curriculum. It’s a long standing respectful partnership that has been strengthened over the years. Different schools across the country, different children, from different grades. Today it can be a Grade 8 learner tomorrow it can be a Grade 12 child having access to the DStv bouquet. These are sponsored free of charge with all the required equipment. What MultiChoice is doing, is truly commendable.
How has MultiChoice played a pivotal role in aiding Government to achieve its developmental objectives as outlined in NDP 4, NDP 5 and the Harambee Prosperity Plan?
All those that you’ve mentioned has one thing in common. It’s a strategic objective for the expansion of equitable access and the integration of the use of IT in education. Now we are moving towards integrated and diversified learning. That is one of our key strategies. In April, 2006 we launched, with our UN family, the Sustainable Development Goal 4. MultiChoice plays a pivotal role in the fulfillment of diversifying and complementing our core traditional curriculum through the sponsored educational bouquets.
How has the MultiChoice Resource Centre enhanced or enriched the teaching and learning experience for teachers and learners in your opinion?
Children get assigned tasks. Children don’t just to get to sit and enjoy and have fun. Yes, they do have fun but it’s a learning experience where they are constantly challenged with exercise sheets or assignments. Tasks based on what they’ve experienced, so a great part of the work is actually expanding the way they think. The way they argue. The way they see their own world around them. What they watch under supervision, with the teachers, is usually discussed again during revision. It allows our children to express themselves. In essence it not only promotes but it also enhances life long learning. We don’t just want to prepare the children up to Grade 12. We want children to take what they’ve learned and apply it long-term.
Is this new innovative way of learning something the Ministry would consider including in the school curriculum in future for all schools in Namibia?
The integrated ICT for the next three years is absolutely critical. Now we also need to look at our expectations versus the realities and that is resources. So we currently have around 1800 schools, three hundred of them are fully equipped. You would need to have a short-term as well as a long-term plan, rolling this out. With the necessary planning and rechanneling of resources one can then still discuss with MultiChoice as to how best do we roll out to a few more deserving schools, especially in the rural areas where there’s electricity. We’ve seen the impact, we’ve experienced the children’s excitement to learn and to return to school and to remain at school.
Many of the MultiChoice Resource Centres are actually situated within our learning facilities or within a library. So we look at infrastructure first and foremost. Whether there is electricity available but we also look at the school’s management. You know, school management is everything. The passion and the hard work of the teachers is another and you look at issues around discipline but most importantly I think, you look at schools who do not always have that specific access. You have a school like Jan Möhr for example, where the children are coming from different backgrounds and we don’t take things for granted. We know that we experience different levels of poverty and our children come from different households. Those are some of the things we consider and we also look at how many of these centers are in a particular region.
Tell us about the back to school event, held at Jan Möhr in January?
It was one of the most beautiful days. Beginning of the year there is a lot of pressure on us and that day, all we did was just enjoy the vibe and the positive energy. The national pride of the children. It was the back to school event launched by MultiChoice but it was also the launch of the Resource Centre that was set up at Jan Möhr. I can tell you as an educator it filled my heart with such pride. Hearing the expectations of the children. All the stakeholders that were there, very well balanced key stakeholders attended the event. Our Honorable Minister of Education, it was one of the most beautiful events. Setting the tone for the rest of the year. At the very same event it was an opportunity to speak to a parent of one of the children, Ewan Orlam. Listening to him just fills you with such a deep sense of pride and reward. It’s a rewarding exercise seeing the impact that positive television can have on our children.