Feeding Minds and Bodies
“Lots of these children came here underfed and dehydrated and that has a huge effect on brain development. There is a direct link between hunger and learning taking place. In fact, when a child is hungry; underfed; nervous; stressed or has experienced trauma, their dominant side of their brain will shut down by 85%. This has been proven. Therefore, in addition to all that we are providing here, it is also important in the training of our staff, and that includes the cleaning staff for example, that we emphasize the need for a loving atmosphere. Our approach is completely supportive.” Says Carmen de Villiers, the Education Specialist, at Nakayale Private Academy.
The story of Nakayale, is not ordinary story because this is no ordinary school, this is a school looking to enrich the lives of both children and a community. The school came about after the Dirk Mudge Trust (DMT) sold its share in Democratic Media Holdings and decided to commit the full proceeds of the sale towards education for deserving underprivileged children and the development of surrounding communities. Quite a wistful objective that has been brought to life at the Nakayale Private Academy, in the Omusati Region.
Under the careful guidance of the first trustee of DMT, Chrisna Greeff the Nakayale Private Academy opened up for its first intake of children in January of this year. Children that are selected to attend receive full scholarships, i.e. provision of school fees, accommodation, clothing, food and learning materials. But it doesn’t end there as a key component of the project includes the attention, development and healthcare these children receive at this school. According to Carmen de Villiers from Nakayale Private Academy, “We went to rural areas and schools that are a considerable distance away from town. We selected marginalized children and children that are orphans but also children that showed great aptitude. This is a very outcomes based project but also a very holistic program.”
99FM’s MYD Heart, travelled to the Nakayale Private Academy to find out firsthand what holistic education and care for rural communities can be. In this remote area of Namibia, close to the Ruacana Falls, what was found was a fully functional school where children’s lives are being changed. In speaking to some of the first ever students at this academy, it was clear these children love the space that has been created for them. Considering the abject poverty most of these children come from, it is understandable why they would report that [they] “do not want to go back to where we came from because we are happy now and we love this school.” What was most surprising about these interactions was that they happened in English. For most of these children, when they arrived at Nakayale they had never spoken English before. The visit to this school took place less than two months from when it first opened its doors. When asked how this was possible, Carmen notes that “The teachers teach the concept in the children’s mother tongue and then explain the whole concept again in English.” It seems as though it is more than that though, because it is clear that here the children’s best interests are being placed first.
The ripple effect is classrooms where you find children with their hands up, eager to participate in class and to learn. It might seem simplistic but maybe it’s the basics we need to go back to. One thing is for sure, the initiative that was taken, through partnerships, to create the Nakayale Private Academy is one that will change the lives of the community at Etunda. It shows what truly can be done when children’s needs are placed first and so, we look forward to seeing what incredible Namibian minds that will advance our country, will come out of this school.
Information about Nakayale Private Academy
The school comprises eight classrooms, eight dormitories, a school hall, teachers’ accommodation, sports fields, administration offices, and kitchen and laundry facilities.
It is found on a 50ha piece of land at Etunda that was offered to the Trust by ELCIN’s Western Diocese. Due to its size and location, the land is also going to be used for food production to sustain the provision of healthy, wholesome food to the school. This in turn offers the community, including parents of the children, job opportunities.
Through assistance from the Chairperson of the Board of Governors of St Paul’s College, Chief Justice Peter Shivute, the school has partnered with the Nakayale Private Academy to assist with academic matters St Paul’s College assists on curriculum, selection and training of teachers, criteria for selection of candidates and procurement of learning materials.
The first intake of learners at Nakayale was for grades 0 to 2, with fresh intakes of grade 0 and 1 every year as grades progress up to grade 7.
Click here for more information about the Nakayale Private Academy.
Article by Kirsty Watermeyer