After much thought, prayerful consideration, and collaboration with like-minded people, we—Monja Gouws and Marié Kuhlmann, along with our husbands André Gouws and Herbert Kuhlmann—have been able to form the first homeschool association in Namibia.
The Gouws family: A word from Monja
André and I have been homeschooling since 1999. We currently run a support center for other homeschoolers while homeschooling our 11-year-old twins. Our eldest son (23) was homeschooled from day one and graduated on a higher grade level than students who used the Namibian curriculum.
I also helped established the GED exam center in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital. We have a huge success rate with the online GED, as this is an alternative to the current educational system and provides each child a chance to obtain a grade 12 certificate. I love the children in the program and would like to see each child succeed.
Our family is widely connected and were able to gain support from various spheres in society. André provides the necessary stability and also funded most of this project. We are indebted to him, but we also know that he, too, has a vision to see the children in Namibia succeed.
The Kuhlmann family: A word from Marié
My husband and I were both born in Namibia. We lived in South Africa until 2017, when we moved back to Namibia with our then 17-year-old son. Our oldest went on to study performing arts at a South African institution in Somerset West, called Pneumatix.
I previously served as the chairperson of the Eastern Cape Home School Association, and I was very involved in establishing local support groups (mainly in the Eastern Cape). When our family moved to Namibia, we connected with the homeschoolers—a group of less than 100 families.
We’ve seen much growth over the last five years; currently, we have more than 4,660 homeschooling families in Namibia.
Since 2017, my dream has been to establish an association for the homeschoolers and encourage collaboration among various homeschool curriculum providers, parents, and other service providers. It was challenging because I hardly knew the “right” people and didn’t have the financial means to make a project like this work.
Help was provided!
In 2019, I (Marié) attended the GHEX Africa Indaba and was encouraged to start the association. (I also realized how little I really knew about such an undertaking!)
Despite feeling ill equipped to do this, my family felt such a burden for new homeschooling parents. We saw how many of them felt lost because they didn’t get the necessary support. We longed to tell them that they were the only people who really knew their children!
The need grew, and we did more research on the legislation in Namibia and the costs involved in starting an association. We also continued to pray.
At the end of 2019, I made contact with Monja. After a long telephone conversation, we realized we have complementary passions—Monja has a passion for the children and I have a passion for the parents. We started dreaming together of how we could make a difference.
Many conversations followed, and the process moved on, slowly but surely. In 2021, Monja pulled funds together and started the process of registering the association. It was a bit of a nightmare on the admin side, because we have many seasoned homeschool parents across Namibia whom we wanted to be a part of the association—but getting all the details and signatures was no easy task. André was instrumental in finalizing this part of the process.
The day we went to the bank to sign for the opening of the account for the association was the first day Monja and I met in person! We quickly realized that our partnership wasn’t a mistake!
Today we are in awe of what God has done! It is still a process, and many things still need to fall into place, but we’ve started! Next we will be writing articles for our blog; the website that provides proper information to new parents is 99% finished.
We are hoping to collaborate with the Department of Education in Namibia by providing a service in which the homeschoolers register with the association. Thus far our government has no objection to how we are organizing and supporting the homeschool families. Even new education legislation enacted in 2020 is in favor of our mission.
The Department of Education needs some data for their projections and reports, which we could easily provide, without interfering in the privacy of families. Obviously, we still need a lot of guidance and wisdom, but we are so fortunate to have Karin van Oostrum from the Pestalozzi Trust, Mike Donnelly and Trudi Miller of Home School Legal Defense Association, as well as the rest of the African Coalition (Canute Waswa, Bouwe van der Eems, Liz Gitonga, Godfrey Kahaze and Christopher Codeiro) to assist and guide us!
Watch this space as we continue to build the association and provide support to the growing number of homeschoolers in Namibia.