Today Namibia is considered a stable democracy, however, like so many African nations faces many problems, not least the steady proliferation of HIV/AIDS which is estimated to affect 25% of the entire population leaving 60,000 children orphaned ~ accounting for 50% of all orphans in the country. It is hard to imagine bring brought up in a country where 17.5% of the entire child population is an orphan and where most adults die shortly after their 50th birthday. There are 946,000 children in Namibia out of a total population of two million with 55.8% living in poverty not least because over half the population is unemployed. One in five of children in Namibia is undernourished claiming 6000 of their lives every year. Most children live within families engaged in farming even though half of the arable land in Namibia is owned by white farmers. There are normally about four children in each family (three in urban areas, five in rural areas) living in traditional homes (left) made from sticks and mud. Without electricity most cooking is undertaken outside on wood fires and piped water is only available to around 36% of the rural population, others have to walk to shared pipes or other water sources, often a mile away.
Given the poor quality of the land, many adult males are migrant workers in urban areas or in the mines, leaving the women to grow crops such as millet, maize and sorghum. Boys will tend to the family livestock; chickens, cattle and goats whilst girls will undertake household chores including caring for younger children. Education for children in Namibia is both compulsory and free from the ages of 6 to 16yrs, although, as in many other countries, the cost of school upkeep and books etc falls down to the family. Education is comprised of Lower Primary (grades 1 - 4) and Upper Primary (grades 5 – 7), then, following a national exam, students can progress to Junior Secondary (grades 8 – 10) then Senior Secondary (grades 11 - 12) at the end of which successful students are awarded the Namibia Senior Secondary Education Certificate. The government has been keen to promote education building thousands of new classrooms and it is estimated that today 95% of children in Namibia attend school with high literacy rates compared with other sub-Saharan countries. A further bolster to education has been the recent introduction of pre-primary education aimed at children from poor backgrounds aged 5 and 6yr old. This is a video of some children in Namibia who were asked to perform for the camera. Keep an eye out for the lad on the right of the video, he's really not too sure about the whole experience! There are many charities you can contact to help children in Namibia, together with child sponsor programs.
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