Same script different cast ...as Dr. Becky Ndjoze-Ojo resurfaces

By By Nomhle Kangootui
July 2011
On the Move
When Dr. Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, the former Deputy Minister of Education was not re-elected to Parliament in 2010, she decided to lie back and put her feet up to give herself a long therapeutic mental and physical break.

A popular figure in Namibia’s education system, Ndjoze-Ojo went for a year-long sabbatical, until she recently showed up last month at the British Council as Country Director.

Armed with six university degrees, a PhD in English, a Masters of Arts in Applied Linguistics, a Masters in Public Policy Administration, a Postgraduate Diploma in Distance Education, Management and Organisation, a BEd Honours and a BEd in Communication Studies, Media, Linguistics and Literature, the 55 year old, had started applying for several jobs earlier this year.

“As the new Country Director of the British Council, I come with a new tenacity and excitement at the prospect of advertising the British Council’s role in the development of Namibia,” she explains.

She intends to focus on people to people links, through inter-cultural relations and educational exchange programs.

“I am committed to improve English proficiency levels in the country and by using the English language in Namibia as an instrumental language as stated in Article 3 in the Namibian Constitution,” Ndjoze-Ojo says.

She says the Council’s involvement with Namibia dates back to the beginning of the Swapo liberation movement in Zambia, during the struggle, where many Namibians were sponsored by the British Council to further studies in the United Kingdom.

Herself a product of three top British universities (in London, Ulster and Durham), Ndjoze-Ojo remains a firm believer in the power of education as a weapon for the development of Namibia.

“The British Council provided me the opportunity to indirectly influence Namibian educational development and I am so proud that I am still serving the interests of both the people of the UK and the Namibian people. This is what I needed. It’s something that comes within my line of life—education.”

There are only 120 Country Directors in the world and she is one of the only two black British Country Directors in Africa, after Botswana.

The British Council’s remit is “to build mutually beneficial cultural and educational relationships between the United Kingdom and other countries, and increase appreciation of the United Kingdom’s creative ideas and achievements”. Its overseas network extends to 233 locations in over 100 countries and territories.

Ndjoze-Ojo says she is driven by her strong belief in internationalism, a commitment to professionalism, and an enthusiasm for education, having worked and studied in several countries previously.

She also graduated at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Netherlands, Ahinadi Bella University in Nigeria and the local University of Namibia.

She believes she is the best person to connect the British and the people of Namibia because of her rich background of United Kingdom and understanding of Namibian education set-up.

“I matriculated in 1977 and after I completed my teachers’ training, I started teaching at Theo Katjimune Primary school in Windhoek. So I did not just become a deputy minister. In fact I was the first Namibian to be granted sponsorship by Christian Aid to study abroad.”

Quizzed on a day any particular incident she still reminiscence from her old days at the ministry, Ndjoze-Ojo, talks of the stress and pressure that came with the job.

“Once, I was visiting the Erongo region and when we got to Swakopmund I asked my driver to take me to the hospital because I was feeling sick, but none of us knew where the hospital was. When we eventually got to the hospital the doctor was shocked because my blood pressure was very high and I was immediately hospitalised. They wanted to detain me for some days and check what was wrong with me but I begged the hospital to do everything within their powers to let me go because I had an assignment waiting for me the next day.”

The doctor released her but under very strict conditions, she recalls.

The following day she addressed three schools in Swakopmund.

“It was not until recently that a young lady walked up to me and said that the speech I had made at her school in Swakopmund that year, had changed her life and her focus to education, that I realised that amidst that pressure in the ministry, I was not only shaping our education system but shaping individuals,” she says proudly.

A mother of five, Ndjoze-Ojo’s advice to the young women is that of hard work, commitment and determination.

She says, “My desire is for every girl in this country to know the fruits of planting the seed of education.” PF