In November, a group of 25 Namibian teachers graduated from a two-year Master's Degree Programme in Primary Education at the University of Eastern Finland. We spoke to the Ambassador of Namibia about why his country chose to bring the teachers here.
Namibia and Finland have a long and interesting history, with education playing an important role. Please can you tell us a bit more about it.
Finnish missionaries from the Lutheran church first came to Namibia in 1870, settling mainly in the north of the country. Here they learned the local language, Oshiwambo, and even translated the Bible into two different dialects.
They also set up a number of missionary schools, which to this day remain the best in the country. The pass rate at these schools is very good and you can really distinguish students who attended one of them. Most of our country's leaders went to a missionary school.
These schools are the basis of the strong links between our two countries. Then in the 1970s and 1980s, when Namibia was engaged in its independence struggle, Finnish universities took in a lot of our students to study law, medicine, teaching and more.
Our links were further strengthened when Finland's Martti Ahtisaaari was appointed as United Nations Commissioner for Namibia. He was tasked with implementing the historic Resolution 435 ceasefire agreement, for which he became a hero in our country.
You've stated that finding opportunities for Namibians to study in Finland is an important part of your diplomatic mission. What more can you say about this?
As a developing nation, our aim is to invest more in education, as without it we will depend on handouts from the world. We want to eliminate this and stand on our own feet.
Since Finnish education is regarded as the best in the world, and with our strong links to the country too, it's logical for us to send students here.
The group of teachers who came to the University of Eastern Finland were studying primary education, as we really want to invest in educating Namibia's children from a young age. By training these teachers, we expect to give our education system a boost when they get back home. They will incorporate their knowledge at the local level, including helping to train their colleagues. We really want them to be trainers of trainers. This is how we're spreading the value of this investment we've made in these 25 teachers.
"By training these teachers, we expect to give our education system a boost when they get back home", says the Namibian Ambassador to Finland, H.E. Bonny Haufiku.
What kind of feedback have you received from the teachers about the programme?
The teachers have been very happy and have achieved good grades. The support of the university's lecturers, tutors and the programme director have all been crucial in helping those who have faced difficulties. Some of the students have also had host families who they could visit for support.
Can you say something about your future plans with regards to educating Namibians abroad?
Namibia will for sure continue investing in education, especially in Finland. We're also going to look into sending Finnish teachers to Namibia.
In addition to training our teachers, we'll also be focusing on IT learning, and we have a maritime studies course coming up too.
Photo of the ambassador: Embassy of the Republic of Namibia in Helsinki
Additional information on the programme:
Mari Argillander, Key Account Manager, Finland University, firstname.lastname@example.org
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