Last week, the United Nations (UN) System in Namibia’s female empowerment programme ‘Prosperous Paths’ surpassed its target of educating 5,000 girls about Goal 5 of the SDGs, namely gender equality. Yesterday, another 150 learners at Deutsche Höhere Privatschule (DHPS) Windhoek took part in the campaign, increasing the total amount of girls now traveling along prosperous paths and actively combating gender inequality to 5,560 pupils.
The students warmly welcomed Dr. Jean Pierre Ilboudo, the Representative to Namibia of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Windhoek along with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek team for the ‘Prosperous Paths’ outreach.
Dr. Ilboudo then took the stage, emphasizing the importance of education in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as in promoting gender equality. He outlined that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a plan of action which seeks to strengthen universal peace and freedom, was adopted by 19 member states in September 2015. Honing in on Goal 4 and Goal 5 of the 17 SDGs, ‘Quality Education’ and ‘Gender Equality’ respectively, Dr. Ilboudo explained that the goals are built on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and are anchored on the principle of ‘Leaving No One Behind’.
Starting with the 4th SDG, Dr. Ilboudo said that the Goal calls for inclusive, equitable and quality education as well as lifelong learning for all. He said, “This SDG is the foundation that will anchor global efforts to deliver education for all children, including Namibian girls and boys.”
In terms of Namibia’s achievement of Goal 4, he mentioned that the country ranks third on the Education for All Development Index and has made incredible progress in primary education enrolment, which currently stands at approximately 99%.
Stressing the importance of education, Dr. Ilboudo said, “If we look at the Sustainable Development Goals – which echo the sentiments of the Namibian Harambee Prosperity Plan – individually and unpack them carefully, we can begin to realize the potential of education as a catalyst for development.” He then applauded Namibia’s Ministry of Education for its efforts towards achieving equitable, quality education for all children through the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 2013 and Universal Secondary Education (USE) in 2016.
Although Namibia has made great strides in education, Dr. Ilboudo mentioned that challenges such as poverty, income inequality and high rates of school dropouts must continue to be addressed in order to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’
Dr. Ilboudo then moved on to discuss the 5th SDG: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Explaining the interconnection between the various SDGs, he mentioned one of the targets of Goal 4 which aims to eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable. He further spoke on adopting and strengthening sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.
Upon the conclusion of Dr. Ilboudo’s presentation, the learners asked many questions regarding gender equality and education, prompting an in-depth and engaging discussion. One student mentioned the importance of women empowering themselves and another emphasized the need for women to also pursue Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) fields. Passionate about the topic at hand, the students continued to ask Dr. Ilboudo questions even after the programme had come to a close.
‘Prosperous Paths’ programme, which surpassed its target of educating and empowering 5,000 girls by over 500 students, has proven to be a success. UNIC Windhoek is excited to see the positive change these students will promote along their individual prosperous paths.