Secondary Education English Teacher

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Project Description

Improvement and achievement in English, as well as promoting English literacy across the curriculum is a priority for the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture (MoEAC) in Namibia. Peace Corps Namibia’s Education project addresses gaps in English, Mathematics, Science, and technology content. Peace Corps Namibia was invited by the Namibian government to promote English education as the new official, national language at the start of Namibia’s Independence in 1990. Today, the Ministry faces a lack of qualified/skilled teachers as well as a teacher shortage and high teacher turnover. With many vibrant local languages, Namibia promotes teaching in students’ mother-tongue in lower grades. This heightens the need for talented teachers to assist in transitioning students to English across the curriculum from grades 4-12.

Volunteers play a key role in building the capacity of Namibian teachers via lesson planning and classroom management; developing teaching and learning resources; improving the delivery of instruction and teaching techniques; promoting/assisting English literacy across the curriculum; and linking schools with their communities. Overall, our objective is to ensure that learners have the English language abilities, comprehension and critical thinking skills needed to be active citizens and desirable employees, as well as empowering teachers to be more effective within their positions and achieve higher passing rates.

Despite Namibia’s classification as a ‘lower middle income’ economy, huge disparities still exist. Namibia is ranked as one of the lowest countries in terms of income/asset distribution in the world, and the Government of Namibia cites “high and persistent unemployment,” estimated to be as high as 34 percent of the population. Furthermore, an expanding urban population, primarily youth seeking improved economic opportunities, is expected to rise significantly from 43 percent in 2006 to 75 percent by 2030. This places an incredible strain on resources and reinforces the importance of education, a struggling sector which is currently facing numerous challenges including budget cuts.

You will be assigned to one of the upper primary or secondary schools in Namibia. Schools at this level range in size from about 300 to 1,000 students and offer instruction in grades 4-12. These schools are located throughout the country and Peace Corps Volunteers teach in every region in Namibia, often in remote, rural areas.

The English curriculum has similarities to U.S. schools in grades 3-12. However, it is important to note that English in the U.S. is meant for first language speakers, not second language and foreign speakers. Students in Namibia are expected to study vocabulary and basic grammar, functional processes of writing, and literature in their respective grades following the rules of British English. Peace Corps supports and trains Volunteers to succeed in these endeavors.

As a Volunteer, you will be under the direct supervision of the principal of the school. The weekly load for teachers can vary, but the expectation is to teach 70% of the time. Some English teachers are also asked to assist in teaching IT and basic computer skills, life skills and occasionally other subjects based upon the school’s discretion and Volunteer’s skill set. As a valued staff member, you may also be nominated to committees that work on various aspects of administering and organizing the school. The remaining 30% may come from extracurricular activities organized outside of school, such as debate, track and field, games such as netball, soccer, and volleyball, boxing, drama, or boys and girls English and/or Health clubs.

This assignment requires a high level of motivation, initiative, and patience. It will also require a certain level of confidence in your abilities, an enthusiasm for working with students of different age groups (which may vary from 12-20 years old), and adults (co-teachers), as well as a good deal of creativity, self-motivation, self-starting and flexibility. Education Volunteers will promote the principles of a learner-centered approach, bring focus to English as the main medium of instruction, and focus on interactive teaching and learning. The Namibian Education system also includes the promotion of social responsibility, life skills, gender awareness, respect of cultural values, environmental awareness, and national reconciliation.

Peace Corps Namibia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic, with a prevalence rate of 33.3%, is exacerbated by, and further contributes to, poverty in Namibia. You will likely play a role in helping to improve the quality of life of individuals living with and or affected by HIV/AIDS through promotion of HIV prevention activities and healthy life skills education.

You will receive training on gender challenges in Namibia as well as how to appropriately engage in HIV-related work and you will have the opportunity to implement activities that are contextually appropriate in both of these areas. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
• Bachelor of Arts in English;
• Bachelor of Arts in Education;
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelors of Science degree in any discipline with a minor or equivalent (15 semester/22 quarter hours) in literature or similar liberal arts discipline;
• TEFL/TESOL Certificate Holder;
• Working in classrooms, particularly at the secondary or adult level, with 30+ hours of English/Literature tutoring experience with primary, middle, or high school students or adults;
• Tutoring experience for English at a primary, middle, or high school level or adults;
• Teaching students for whom English is a second language;
• Ability to research, design, and deliver instructional materials;
• Working with youth and adult students in any leadership capacity coupled with a strong interest to teach.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Though English is the official language of Namibia, the country has many different languages from an array of language families (Khoekhoe, Bantu, and Germanic). Most Volunteers encounter a variety of languages in their communities, either different dialects of the same language, or different languages entirely. Throughout Pre-service training, Volunteers will take intensive language classes and live with a local family to facilitate learning the language of their region in preparation for their service. However, self-study after arriving in their community is a must for any Volunteer wishing to be successful. It should come as no surprise that becoming highly proficient in a local language is directly linked to Volunteer success and satisfaction!

We find that those who have prior success in learning another language are able to more quickly pick up local languages in Namibia.

Living Conditions

Namibia's national anthem proclaims the nation as "beautiful, contrasting Namibia," and this could not be more appropriate. Namibia's two million citizens live in the second least densely populated country in the world. Still, urban centers in the four "O" regions of north central Namibia (population of one million), modern coastal cities of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, and the international capital Windhoek buck the notion of a sleepy, desert nation.

Namibia is on the confluence of two deserts—the Namib and the Kalahari—and temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during certain times of the year. Namibia's weather varies greatly by season. Summers can be very hot and dry in this desert country, but winter evenings can be quite cool. While Namibia’s highest elevation is only around 8,500 feet, the higher altitude areas of the country are noticeable.

Education Volunteers are provided modest housing similar to that of the community they serve. Volunteers could live on a school compound nearby boarding students, share a living space with a Namibian counterpart, on a host family's compound, in independent housing, or in separate housing on school compounds. Volunteers are guaranteed to have a private bedroom, but typically share a kitchen, living room, and other areas. Most homes will not have running water or electricity.

Peace Corps will provide you with a modest monthly living allowance with which you will live at the same level as many of your community members. This allowance will enable you to buy meals and some clothing and to travel, and will be used for miscellaneous expenses.

Many communities do not have reliable mobile phone networks where the Volunteer lives, but will have other communication options close by for emergencies.

Volunteers typically use pit latrines and bathe using a bucket. Most family compounds and clinics will have a water tap from which to fetch water on the grounds or very nearby. Cooking in these rural areas is typically done over open fire or camping stove.

Volunteers will do a great deal of walking. It provides a wonderful opportunity to participate in daily village life - to see your neighbors and (importantly) to be seen by them. It is not uncommon to walk between 15 and 20 minutes each day to get to school or when assisting communities with secondary projects.

When traveling outside the village, Volunteers will use public transportation (taxis and mini-buses), sometimes for a full day or more, to get to their banking and shopping towns, the capital, or attend local and regional trainings and conferences.

You will develop social and working relationships with a variety of people, become familiar with local expectations and customs, develop an appreciation of local foods, struggle with local languages, and learn to live and work with necessities rather than comforts.

Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority, or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority of their host country may find they experience a high degree of curiosity or unwanted attention. Please be aware that American concepts of politeness and appropriate behavior are not universal. Ethnically, nationally, or racially diverse Americans may be asked where they are “actually from” or if they are “really” American. Many Volunteers turn these encounters into learning experiences, share American values, and deepen community members’ understanding of Americans.

While Namibia is generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity are often different from those in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms, and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address these topics during PST, and identify support mechanisms for incoming Trainees and ongoing support for serving Volunteers.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Namibia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Couples will live with the same host family during Pre-Service Training. During the homestay, couples will only have one room to themselves.

After Pre-Service Training couples will share housing at their permanent site. Couples will be placed at different schools within the same community. There will be times during service when couples will spend days and nights apart, such as when one is attending meetings, receiving routine medical care, or other activities that take them away from their community.

Medical Considerations in Namibia

Namibia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: insulin-dependent diabetes; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.

  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified. 
  • After arrival in Namibia, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations. 

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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