Apparently many people don’t know what I do here as a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia.
Today I will reveal the mystery. First, even though it might seem that way from my past posts, I don’t just take trips to fun places. We have been lucky enough to see many of the beautiful landscapes of Namibia in the past year-and-a-half, but much more often I am in the office.
I work for COSDEC Tukurenu, a vocational training centre located in Rundu, Namibia. COSDEC stands for Community Skills Development Centre and there are about eight similar centres across Namibia. Thanks to a grant from MCA Namibia, a large brand new facility was completed just before I joined the team in September 2013, and this new centre has allowed us to expand our number of courses from four when I started to eight in our most recent intake this month.
I am a CED (Community Economic Development) volunteer and our overall CED goals in Namibia have to do with training people in business and financial literacy skills. At COSDEC, I have the opportunity to work with many trainees who might go on to start their own businesses because there are not enough jobs in the formal sector. Youth unemployment is very high at 41% (2013 Namibia Labour Force Survey PDF file).
Many of my job duties, especially early on, were to assist the centre with the new management and reporting systems that were put into place ahead of the large investment from MCA-N. I helped with budgets, quarterly reports, the centre business plan, policies and procedures, etc.
At the same time, I was part of conducting some community needs assessments, both in town and in rural villages, to determine the skills training needs. Based on the very low level of knowledge and high demand for business skills, I created a curriculum and conducted an entrepreneurship course last May. The new centre features an annex called the Business Development Centre where we can conduct business courses and provide career services to our graduates. Here are some photos from the May 2014 entrepreneurship class.
Since that class, I have also conducted business trainings in rural areas, using a translator to help me get across the key concepts. I’ll talk about the groups I trained and more about that program in future posts.
Last week, I got to play the role of math teacher as I conducted a two hour numeracy course with all of our trainees. My COSDEC centre manager, Ms. Kafuro, co-taught with me for some of the classes as her schedule allowed. Here she is in action. She was much better at teaching the metric system than me!
For some of our students, this class was very basic and review, but as we are a community skills development centre, our classes are open to many in the community who did not advance very far in the public school system here. Many Namibians lack the math skills needed to operate a business or even to be productive in a technical trade such as joinery.
More about what I do in future posts…