The German Embassy Windhoek and Goethe-Institut Namibia on Friday 15 June 2018 officially handed over the PASCH (Schools: Partners for the Future) accreditation to the Private School Swakopmund (PSS) and signed an Agreement of Cooperation. The PSS is now one of 2000 PASCH schools worldwide and seven in Namibia: three under the auspices of the Central Agency for Schools Abroad in Berlin, Germany (Namib High School in Swakopmund and Delta Secondary School and DHPS in Windhoek), and four under the auspices of the Goethe-Institut Namibia (Windhoek High School, Martin Luther High School in Okombahe, Otjiwarongo Secondary School and PSS).
“It is a great achievement to mark the German Language Day 2018 with the official accreditation of a local school in Namibia and have it become part of an international network. Under the slogan of German Connects, the Day stands for the fostering of connections between people through cultural exchange and colourful activities as you will see today,” said Goethe-Institut Namibia Director, Daniel Stoevesandt. He stressed that for the PSS and other schools to become part of this network, it is important for them to first show a commendable academic record and achieve outstanding performance in the subject.
10 years of PASCH in Namibia
PASCH is this year celebrating ten years of international educational cooperation since its establishment in 2008 by then German Foreign Minister and present Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. PASCH in Namibia commenced with more than 3 thousand German as a Foreign Language learners at about 34 schools in 2011 to almost 9 thousand learners at 52 schools in 2018. PASCH is a worldwide programme for the development and advancement of German language education at distinguished schools. The initiative promotes inter-cultural exchange and the development of an international learning community. Within the scope of this programme, German language classes are promoted at PASCH-Schools worldwide. The Goethe-Institut supports 599 PASCH-schools all over the world in the national education systems of more than 120 countries through financial assistance and introducing or developing German as a school subject.
“PASCH accreditation and the German Language Day initiative are pivotal in maintaining the close relationship through cultural and language cooperation that sends many Namibians to study in Germany and opens doors for opportunities in study and career,” said German Ambassador, Christian Schlaga. He encouraged the audience to engage in the vibrant activities during German Language Day, such as the Autobahn Spiel, cultural performances, German cuisine and theatre sports on German stereotypes later that evening.
Benefits of being a PASCH-School
Being a PASCH-School includes renovating the German language classrooms, installment of modern teaching technology, the supply of teaching materials designed for effective teaching and regular support through skills-transfer and scholarships for teachers to universities in Germany.
“We had started with operations at the PSS last year and amongst many installed a resource centre for German language teachers in the Erongo Region. Upgrading at the PSS German language classrooms cost about 400 000 NAD and included two interactive boards that allow teachers to use various resources when teaching the German language through advanced teaching methods,” said Goethe-Institut Namibia Head of Language Cooperation, Corinna Burth.
The Goethe-Institut Namibia and PASCH throughout every academic year hold conferences for German language teachers to equip them with the latest and advanced teaching techniques. Being a PASCH-School, learners and teachers at the PSS are part of a network that supports the development of multicultural projects and the acceptance of cultural diversity.
Opening the ceremony, PSS Director Hein Daiber made reference to the biblical analogy of a mustard seed and how the school’s title of a PASCH-School is the fruitful result of an investment made 20 years ago that now mandates the PSS to welcome other members of the educational community. “This status must however not only benefit the eco-system of our own educational tree but places an obligation on us to support other schools teaching German language in our vicinity,” said Daiber.
German language a plus
In a speech read on her behalf, Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture Permanent Secretary, Sanet Steenkamp noted how competence in the German language should not be underestimated in contributing to Namibia’s socio-economic development. “Being conversant in German enables our school leavers to take up careers in the hospitality and tourism industry as well as to learn from German expertise. Not only in tourism but also technical vocational and higher education across is benefitting from linkages with German institutions,” said Steenkamp.
Echoing Steenkamp, Erongo Regional Governor, Cleophas Mutjavikua took the opportunity and noted Swakopmund’s Germanic cultural identity and how the PASCH programme will have local learners benefit immediately and in the future of their education and careers. “I am convinced that the students of the PSS will profit greatly by having their school inducted in this project, as learning a global language – in this case German – opens up so many doors for life, especially in laying a foundation for one’s career. This is true in general but more especially in Namibia where tourism plays an ever increasing role in our nation’s economy,” said Mutjavikua.
The German Language Day 2018 included a round table discussion at which representatives of the Erongo education system, local authority, regional economy, partners in education and culture and principals of all PASCH schools in Namibia deliberated on the importance of German language skills for the Erongo Region. Participants identified that while the importance of proficiency in German is important to the economy, particularly the tourism industry of Namibia, the need of resources and lack of teaching staff needs urgent attention.
The Etosha Secondary School in Tsumeb will in the near future also be accredited as a PASCH-School and sign their Agreement of Cooperation.