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Taking education to the most remote areas of the country

Taking education to the most remote areas of the country

“My work is done if I can change the life of just one student because one is the majority said Frikkie Louw the Co-Founder of Eduvision in Namibia. Frikkie works with Jurita Potgieter to bring education to remote schools in the country.

A former principal at Edugate Academy a private school in Otjiwarongo, Louw said in an interview with The Economist that he recalls seeing the school result for the Country in 2017 and Tsumkwe Senior Secondary School was in last place and he decided that resources and the window need to be opened to remote schools in the country. “I visited the school, talked to the principal and came up with a solution to help the learners improve, but this solution needed a lot of money and technological help,” recalled Frikkie.

He elaborated that when knocking on doors for help and Paratus Namibia and B2Gold Namibia was the first to get on board with project Eduvision. Paratus helped with the internet connection to Tsumkwe and B2Gold helped to install the smart boards.

“Therefore a smart-board was installed in a class at Edugate Academy and also at Tsumkwe Secondary School with satellite connection and all of a sudden we were sitting in Otjiwarongo with a mathematics class, watching the mathematics class in Tsumkwe and we were then able to conduct a lesson from Edugate Academy to Tsumkwe Secondary School”

Further explaining the e-learning process Louw said learners in Tsumkwe can see the teacher in Otjiwarongo live and can engage and ask questions, therefore they get the same lessons as the learners at Edugate Academy. “The project was officially launched on 6 August 2018 when Vice President, Dr Nangolo Mumba talked to the learns of Tsumkwe from Otjiwarongo via Eduvision,” he emphasised.

After the inauguration, Louw informed that Paratus donated 50 more satellite dishes that will be used at other schools in remote areas and this is how Eduvison Namibia started.

“We started with one school in 2018 and now we have 16 schools in remote areas using Eduvision, so we started with 217 learners from Tsumkwe and now we have about 10 000 learners who have access and use Eduvision,” added Louw. Louw is now on the journey to utilise the rest of the 50 satellites in other remote schools in the country.

Louw said at the moment Eduvsion is only catering for grades 10, 11 and 12 and even though they have gotten requests to start with primary school programmes, they still need to go to other remote schools and introduce Eduvision to them. “There are also pre-recorded lessons that learners can view in their own time by, just logging into the system and viewing the lessons, and at this point, we can have one teacher teaching all 16 classes at the same time,” he added.

“The learners we help are deprived of everything and at the end of the day, they have to write the same paper as the rest of the county and sometimes I ask myself what are we doing because we have only touched the tip of the iceberg, there is more that needs to be done,” emphasised Louw.

Louw said we need more men power and money to take this programme further and to another remote school, there are huge expenses, with the travelling to the different school, because the bigger we get the more expensive the process becomes. “At the moment we have to stop the programme in July at all the schools if we do not get about N$180 000 because this is what it costs to keep the programme running,” emphasised Louw.

He said when they think that they can go no further and when there is no more money, someone or an organisation comes on board and helps them along and he is very thankful for this.

Louw said his biggest dream for Eduvision Namibia, even though we can hopefully continue and get 50 schools on board, is to see schools in the remote areas interacting with each other and not depending on the lessons from Edugate.

“Technology breaks down boundaries, barriers and kilometres to come to what we think is necessary and we share the joy with improvement,”

Speaking on the result Louw said in 2017 Tsumkwe was ranked last in the country and at the end of 2020 Tsumkwe was number 23 in the country and two learners from Tsumkwe are now studying at the University of Namibia (UNAM), there are improvements in all schools along with the board.

“It is important for users to reach those learners in the remote areas so that they can, firstly catch up with the urban learners, to have the opportunity and access to the world wide web and open their mindsets,” concluded Louw.


 

About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and she believes education is the greatest equalizer. She received her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in June 2021. . She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.