Namibian children adjust socializing rules amid COVID-19 pandemic

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020 00:00 |

Students wearing masks are seen divided into small groups to comply with social distancing in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus in school, Windhoek, Namibia. (Xinhua)


Children in Namibia have customized socializing rules such as play and interaction patterns to curtail the spread of COVID-19 among the young populace.

At a far-flung village in Oshana region in the northern part of Namibia, 13-year-old Selma Shikongo interacted with friends. Each one of them wore a mask and kept a distance.

"Things are so different now. Not only do we wear masks when outdoors, but we cannot touch each other either when we play," said Shikongo Tuesday.

The children have since modified traditional plays, folklore and games to suit safety and security measures put in place by the state in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"For instance, we do not play with balls or items that require handling with hands. We also came up with new games and rules that restrict touching," she said.

Shikongo is not the only one. Ndahafa sheehama lives in an informal settlement. Given the closeness of dwellings, Sheehama and her neighbors resorted to reading sessions, a new activity which has helped them improve their speaking and reading skills.

"It is not what we would usually do, but with schools closed, it gets very boring. Reading has become fun. We do not share books at all. But I miss my friends at school," said the primary school learner.

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture closed all schools in March this year after the Namibian President declared a State of Emergency and subsequent restrictions. Only the senior secondary grades have since opened early June.

Meanwhile, for Sheehama, despite the restrictions and having to adapt to new circumstances, she said she is also glad that the bars in the neighbourhood in the informal settlement had closed for socialization.

"The noise has reduced, and there is calm and order in the community," she added.

Moreover, the children attribute their comprehensive knowledge about COVID-19 to local media.

According to Shikongo, she and her peers learned much of the preventative information about COVID-19 and state regulations from the local vernacular Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) radio.

NBC radio presenter, Venerada Nepembe Daniel, said that the national broadcaster runs a children's program, and the information on various topics shared on the show is pitched at their (children) level.

According to Daniel, the program also takes a participatory approach, allowing children to call in live to share their experience as well as testing them on their knowledge about various issues, including COVID-19 pandemic.

In the interim, the children said that their primary goals are to keep healthy and adhere to the rules.

"We do not wish to get sick or die. So that we have a just society safe for all children," said Sheehama.

Namibia had recorded 34 cases of COVID-19, of which 18 cases have recovered. (Xinhua)

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