Waldorf School Windhoek (WSW) is a unique community of 260 learners, 42 staff members, 4 ducks, 2 chickens, 2 cats, and the occasional natural wildlife. A walk around the school premises is a sensorial experience: the vast sky above, the welcoming shade of the trees, the open and calming spaces, and, of course, animated conversations between teachers and learners and squeals of laughter from playing children.
The Waldorf School in Windhoek is more than a school. It is a place committed to life-long learning—a place of learning for life.
Situated in Andries De Wet Drive in Avis, the school is surrounded by Namibia’s quintessential savannah landscape. This open setting provides the perfect environment for the Waldorf pedagogy to burrow its roots and spread its branches, preparing its learners in a holistic manner for the adventures and challenges of life from kindergarten to high school.
WSW has an integrated education which harnesses the benefits of a conventional education curriculum (languages, arts, and the sciences) taught in an engaging, creative, and supportive environment. Learners are taught the importance of identity, independent thought, and collaboration. WSW is proud of its growing alumni pool of confident young adults.
The Waldorf Way
THE FIRST WALDORF SCHOOL
Founded in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the first Waldorf School emphasized social justice. Learners were educated together regardless of social background, ability, or vocation. This Waldorf School was the first comprehensive school to replace the principle of selection by a pedagogy of encouragement and support. Waldorf School Windhoek is proud to continue this legacy today.
REPEATING A YEAR IS NOT AN OPTION
All learners go through 12 years of schooling–the Waldorf curriculum is based on the needs of the developing learner, taking their emotional, intellectual and personal abilities and needs into consideration at all times.
AN INTEGRATED AND ARTISTIC EDUCATION
The curriculum is integrated, inter-disciplinary, and artistic—a rare combination of traits in education systems in Namibia and the rest of the world. At WSW, imagination and creativity are more than bywords; they play an integral part in education. It is also the belief of the institution that these two traits are crucial for navigating the modern world and future life. During their education, learners are encouraged to use their imagination as an educational tool while principles of logic and rationality are used to enable learners to navigate the world around them. The school has an array of crafts and artistic pursuits which awaken a learner’s sense of identity, creative autonomy, and independence.
One of the school’s unique features is its championing of vocational education. It prepares learners for a competitive and restricted job market by imbuing them with technical, artisanal, and personal skills in the electrical, horticultural, hospitality, and office administration sectors. Regular internship opportunities are sourced for learners allowing them to gain valuable work experience and important footholds in the Namibian workplace. At secondary school level, certified vocational training programs are offered alongside the academic programme which culminates in the writing of the Namibian Secondary School Certificate (NSSC).
The scientific character of many subjects from the 9th to the 12th grade is seen in close connection with the pursuit of individuality and the increasing power of judgement which start to develop around the age of fourteen. Waldorf schools understand their educational task not as pre-university-education but as an institution which assists learners to develop an intellectual curiosity which will allow them to find answers to internal and external questions.
Teaching in blocks enables the teaching activities to be economic. It is applied to subjects such as the mother tongue, history, mathematics, and the natural sciences. Subjects which need to be practiced continuously like arts and foreign languages are taught in subject lessons.
SCHOOL REPORTS AND FINAL EXAMS
The Waldorf system does not prescribe to the principle of selection. As such it has developed its own system of school reports. They consist of detailed learner characterizations which highlight individual achievements, progress, and efforts made in individual subjects. Waldorf learners are eligible to write all school-leaving exams and often perform above the national average.
Waldorf schools have replaced the hierarchically organized administration of state schools by adopting a free constitution. Parents and teachers work together to maintain the operational health of the school. Pedagogical management and control are carried out through the weekly teachers’ conference.
Despite the Waldorf education system’s success, there remains a constant need for political, governmental, societal, and parental intervention for financing Waldorf schools. Waldorf School Windhoek has a series of fundraising initiatives which assist in keeping the school financially viable.
A school policy of non-selection and the provision of subsidies for children unable to pay full school fees allows Waldorf School Windhoek to be the school of choice for all Namibian children.
Educating for the Namibian context
The Waldorf education philosophy and approach naturally aligns itself with the Namibian National Development Goals of Vision 2030, culminating in the over-arching goal of a “prosperous and industrialized Namibia developed by her human resources, enjoying peace, harmony and political stability”. Waldorf School Windhoek meaningfully contributes to the country’s national goals by providing quality and relevant “education for all”.