WHO WE ARE
The Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO) is a representative body of students, trainees and learners that has been championing quality, equitable and accessible education in Namibia since its founding in 1984.
Originally formed as a militant group of students opposed to the Bantu Education regime during Namibia's apartheid era, we have positioned ourselves to protect the rights and interests of our members; providing pro-student and pro-youth policy direction and influence to a wide range of stakeholders and amplifying the voices of Namibian youth in the country and beyond.
Since 1984, our work in Namibia and beyond has been focused on influencing the country’s legislative and policy frameworks, to the benefit of our members, and through a diverse set of advocacy tools such as collective bargaining, radical protest and high-level representation.
The legacy of NANSO’s work is undeniable; from championing free basic education, to holding all our stakeholders accountable to their mandates, we are proud to continue ensuring that every Namibian Child has equal access to quality education and, subsequently, to opportunity and economic prosperity.
Welcome to our digital home; don’t miss our Resources Section, where we’ve gathered a collection of material that you may find useful.
Our Core Values
We are professional in all we do.
We are accountable to our stakeholders.
We are united in our advocacy.
We are transparent with our victories and losses.
We have integrity and honesty.
We are innovative in our approach.
We are motivated to represent all the students, trainees and
learners of this Republic.
To be a leading advocate for accessible and fee-free quality education for all students, trainees in Namibia, and to ensure a knowledge-based and technology-driven society.
To be the leading movement of students, trainees and learners that strives for quality education for all.
As was the case in the rest of Africa, formal education in Namibia was introduced by Church missions as a by-product of their evangelical work. During German colonial rule, priority was given to the creation of white settler schools, while black education remained largely the responsibility of missionaries.
The education of black children was characterised by conflicting attitudes; on the one hand, the German colonial regime tolerated the education of black children due to the growing need for African workers on settler farms, but on the other there was overwhelming fear that literacy might lead to rebellion.
When Namibia was granted to South Africa as a mandate in 1923, educational control passed to South Africa which, in the same year, required missionaries working in northern Namibia to promise, in writing, to support and promote government policy in their education, and to teach loyalty to the Apartheid regime.
In 1948 when the National Party came into power, existing curricula was reformed in order to codify “the principles and aims of education for natives as an independent race, in line with their distinctive characteristics and aptitudes.”
The Odendaal Commission – a body mandated to design and implement separate development in Namibia – re-enforced this education system that was characterised by inequality, and in 1958, at the height of the Apartheid regime, the Van Zyl Commission officially introduced the system of Christian National, apartheid-based education into Namibia, codified in law as the Bantu Education Act of 1953. This education system, similar to the one present in neighboring South Africa at the time, was unequal and was designed to enforce racial segregation and provide black children with an inferior education. In the words of Dr. Verwoerd, the education system was intended to teach black children that “equality with Europeans is not for them.”
But that system would not go unchallenged.
On 16 June 1976, an estimated twenty thousand black students in South Africa held a series of demonstrations and protests against the education system. These protests marked the beginning of an era of defiance in Apartheid Namibia, and in 1984, at the St. Joseph RC (Dobra), the Namibia National Students Organisation was formed. In the years preceding its formation, NANSO mobilised students and had branches in over seventy-five percent of the schools in Namibia.
The true force of NANSO, however, was displayed in 1988, when the young people of Namibia took a hold of the streets and protested the inferior education, presence of military personnel in, especially, schools and the Afrikaans medium-of-instruction borne out of the Bantu Education Act and its related apartheid laws. These uprisings sought the end of racism and the birth of justice in Namibia and were a result of a NANSO Congress resolution which sought to make Namibia “ungovernable” (in the context of foreign rule) and to intensify the struggle for independence.
The uprising is said to have been specifically triggered by the death of learners who were caught in the crossfire between the South African Defense Force and the SWAPO army wing near the Ponhofi Secondary School in northern Namibia, and was characterised by a national school boycott; where learners refused to go to school and write exams.
NANSO was born as a vibrant, dynamic and progressive student movement, which, according to Michael Jimmy (a former leader of NANSO), changed the political discourse in Namibia.
While the rest is history, and while we have had to reposition ourselves in independent Namibia, our core values of advocating for an education that is equal remain, under the executive leadership of the National Executive Committee.