The UN4U programme forms an important component of the mandate of the United Nations Information Centre Windhoek in terms of advocating and raising awareness on the activities and work of the United Nations. The UNIC team had already visited a few schools, and on the final stretch to reach the targeted 2000 learners in Namibia the team set off to Gammams Primary School Windhoek on 15 July 2014.
Welcomed by 200 fifth grade learners the team was excited to teach the fundamentals of the United Nations. Commencing with the ordinary order of business, UNIC team started the presentation by explaining to the learners the importance of the United Nations in Namibia as well as the world at large. It was quite humbling to see that the learners of Gammams were already well versed on some international issues, as they knew exactly who H.E. Mr. Ban Ki Moon was when one of the slides with his picture popped up.
The learners were very inquisitive as well; they wanted to know how they too can work for the United Nations one day. We were very pleased to see that the presentation not only informed them about the United Nations, but also sparked up interest to become potential employees.
On Wednesday, the 16th of July UNIC visited Dr. Frans Aupa Indongo Primary School in Babylon, a location amongst one of the most dilapidated informal settlements in Katutura, Windhoek. We were welcomed by an overwhelming 330 children, all of whom were in grade 5 and grade 6. Initially it was a bit of a challenge having to address the larger audience, but the team quickly ran like the well-oiled machine it is to carry the message of the UN to the youngsters.
The learners were very excited to have us there, as it was their first time having UN personnel visit them.
The learners at Dr. Frans were significantly intrigued with the UNDP and UNEP agencies, as these agencies are most responsible for promoting sustainable development. We explained to the learners that human actions such as littering, having mass manufacturing companies that emit harmful gasses out into the atmosphere cause changes in long term weather patterns such as rising sea levels, severe storms, floods and extreme droughts.
After seeing the pictures of the detrimental effects of climate change, the learners vowed to be more aware of the environment they live in, by picking up the garbage on the ground and learning about ways to recycle.
It was very impressive to see that the children were struck by some sort of epiphany as they immediately started dialoguing amongst themselves about what they would do with all their plastic bottles and toilet paper rolls instead of throwing them away, for they now knew how that would affect the environment in about a decade from now.
It was also very inspiring to see that the teachers who were present during the presentation were taking notes as we were elaborating on the responsibilities of the different agencies.
On Thursday, the 17th of July we visited the Windhoek Afrikaans Private School (WAP). Upon our arrival, we found the children already seated in the hall, we immediately knew that these learners were really eager to learn more about the United Nations.
The Social Studies teachers were very excited to join us as they explained to us prior the presentation that they were focusing on the works of the United Nations with their grade 5 and 6 learners, thus felt our visit to their school was timed perfectly and that the presentation would be even more insightful to the children and make them understand the topic from a different perspective.
The WAP learners were very attentive as they paid full attention during the presentation. They were very keen on knowing how exactly the Secretary General, H.E. Mr. Ban Ki Moon juggles through all the tasks obligated to him, from ensuring peace between war-torn countries to sufficient delivery of nutritious food in poverty stricken countries. We explained to the learners that Mr. Ban Ki Moon has a number of responsible, trustworthy and very hard working staff who work under his authority all across the world, who help with all the difficult tasks he has to take care of.
The learners were astonished by the works and responsibilities of the UN Peace Keepers. We explained to them that UN Peace Keepers are not ordinary soldiers or policemen. They are men who are recruited, highly and intensively trained for long periods of time. These are exceptionally skilled men who are sent into war zones to attempt bringing about peace and to essentially end wars. These men leave their families behind to go help people in war countries. The learners were truly humbled by the brave sacrifices of UN Peace Keepers and referred to them as “miracle men”.
The presentation at WAP received warm applause from the learners and teachers alike, they were indeed very appreciative of our visit, so much so that they gave us little note books and pens, with the WAP emblem engraved on them, just as a token of sheer appreciation. To conclude with our weekly outreach programme, on Friday, the 18th of July we visited Khomasdal Primary School. The school had no hall or technical facilities to accommodate us with, such as a screen on which we could present the slides on, thus we had to figure out an alternative. We printed the slides out in A3 format and used the school’s parking lot as a venue in which we can hold our presentation and to our pleasant surprise, everything came about perfectly.
The principle of the school was very appreciative of the fact that albeit the lack of adequate facilities, we still visited the school and carried out our presentation as best as we could. We were jubilantly welcomed by all the grade 5 learners of Khomasdal Primary school for they too were expecting us.
The learners were extremely eager to know who the master mind behind the United Nations was, when and why it was established. We explained to them that the former President of the United States H.E. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the man who initiated and officially spear headed this organization into being on the 24th of October 1945. The learners paid special attention to the World Food Programme (WFP), as the picture illustrated how the agency provides food for 90 million people in 70 countries all over the world, which resulted in a number of questions being brought forth such as “how does the WFP feed so many people in so many countries?” “Where does the WFP get their money from?” We felt these to be quite peculiar questions as the average amount of learners from previous schools we’ve been to were drawn to agencies like UNICEF and UNHCR. Nevertheless we explained to the learners that the WFP works in several countries to make it mobile and easily available to all those in need.
The learners were delighted to see how the United Nations works to help people all over the world. As our presentation concluded, the teachers who were present applauded us for executing the presentation impeccably for they too learned a lot.
The final school the UNIC team visited was Moses van der Byl Primary School, on Friday 1 August where learners eagerly awaited the UNIC team. As it was the last school, UNIC team ensured the programme was as meaningful and interactive as the very first presentation held. The learners were very excited and asked several questions. Their smiles expanding when the UNIC blue bottles were pulled out of the bag at the end of the presentation. What a wonderful experience it was!
UNIC Windhoek handed over water bottles to each child at every school at the end of each session as a symbol of gratitude and a reminder to each of how the United Nations works for each of us!
All things considered, the outreach week was a great success! The feedback from learners and teachers was that the programme complements their social studies curriculum perfectly.