RECENTLY appointed Oshana Regional Director for Education, Hileni Haushona- Amukana is one lady serious about education. But this comes naturally for the eloquent mother of four who rose through the ranks within the education sector starting off as a teacher at the age of 18. Having served in various roles including HoD and principal amongst others, Hileni is hoping to restore education to its former glory across board. In an interview with Confidente, Hileni talked about her journey in the field, the importance of quality education, working closely with the late former Minister of Education Dr Abraham Iyambo and her love for reading as a way to unwind.
Give us a snapshot of who you are?
Technically, I a mother of three girls, one boy and have one grandson. However, I am also an aunt, sister and mother to many others. I regard my children as my source of inspiration. I am from the Christian faith from the Anglican denomination. As an Anglican, I grew in my faith and found grace and blessings through my life. As a Christian, I came to believe that you need to read your Bible daily and you will find solutions of all trials and tribulations in life. Whatever I found disturbing me, I will search for text that match my situation in the good book. I talk to my God every minute of my life. I keep on asking him to guide me and show me the way.
Tell us about your upbringing?
I was raised by my mother and I grew up in my home town Tsumeb with my 10 siblings. I attended Opawa Primary School and Oshikoto Senior Secondary School. In the early years, Tsumeb was a unique town and people lived as one big family. You could not even risk misbehaving as we all knew each other very well. I think the entire Tsumeb community contributed to our well-being as children. Teachers were caring, school boards looked after all children, and we had great respect for our teachers and elders. One thing was that exchanging of greetings to find out how your neighbours were doing was a very important value in the Tsumeb community. However, the greatest of all was my mom. She was strict on school attendance, Sunday school and church going was compulsory. She re-enforced on household chores, each one of us took turns cooking and cleaning, both boys and girls.
What trigged your interest in teaching?
As a child my dream was to become a lawyer or medical doctor. In school, I did math and science to do that. However, I fell ill and h a d to leave school after two months in standard 9. I decided to attend evening classes, which is now called NAMCOL. Since there was no continuation of standard 9; I was registered in standard 10. I passed that year and applied for nursing instead of medicine. By the time I got admitted in nursing, I had already gotten a temporary teaching position at Kandjimi Murangi Secondary School, in the current Kavango West Region. I was appointed to teach English as a second language to standard 5 and 6 learners. I was unqualified and very young. I remember some of learners were older than me. I prayed and thanked God for the teaching post. I also prayed to ask how I would go about it. One fateful night a soft voice spoke to me telling me to emulate my best teachers and prepare very well for classes. I woke up, started writing everything I needed to do in order to be a good teacher. Since then, I’ve never stopped teaching and my love for the profession has grown immensely. I developed a passion for teaching and I fell in love with working with children. What I did next was just to qualify myself as a language and social science teacher.
To be a successful language teacher, I knew I had to be competent in the native language and that came easy to me as I as could speak many languages. I learned to speak and understand my learners’ first language which was Rukwangali and their culture. This really helped me to understand them and their line of thinking in many aspects. I could also understand the community dynamics. Therefore, I would also encourage parents to ensure that children have an understanding of their home languages and culture. It just makes them better.
How has working in various positions shaped you as a career woman?
Each position I occupied came with unique challenges. What kept me strong was the faith I had to succeed. I was always motivated by my small achievements on a daily basis that entailed helping people; the salary was just an added bonus, a superfluous reward for doing what I love. All positions require you to trust those around you, delegate and give support, as well as providing resources needed to succeed.
As a Director what five priorities will you focus on?
Having studied the regional reports and documents on education, arts and culture delivery; major issues where streamlined into strategic themes that eventually led to the formation of regional improvement plan.
These major regional initiatives to improve learning outcomes at all levels and will receive focus in the inception date will be the following:
It is very important that people should understand that change does not happen overnight. So far we had a symposium on education in which we clarified expectations from all of us in the region.
What achievement are you most proud of?
The achievement of being appointed as a Director of Education did not come on a silver platter, there were little winnings that contributed to the whole entity that people now see. It is these winnings that I am profoundly proud of because they paved the way for me to be where I am today.
What has life taught you that you wish to share with other women?
As a woman, life teachings came in different forms that I would unpack as follows:
Mother: When raising children, consider what you want to see in them when they are adults. You raise children to be better individuals, which will consider their communities and the world at large. You do not raise children for yourself. You must be a proud parent when you look back at how they grew up.
Professional and educator: As a women in a male dominated sector where men are in majority, be confident believing that all were made in the image of God, what men can do, women can do better.
Community advocate: I came to believe that women in communities can play a big role in advocating for issues that affect women. One can also assist by sharing good knowledge and by motivating other women so they too believe that they can do anything in life. It only needs a positive attitude and believing in your abilities.
Just what do you do for a little fun?
My first hobby has always been reading. I enjoy reading because it helps me top up my fountain of knowledge, which gives me a broader understanding of various things and allows me to be a better leader. I tend to only read books that I know are to the benefit of my work. I also enjoy singing and dancing (in the comfort of my home that is). I challenge my children/family to sing/dance-offs and the best performer receives a nice reward. I find it therapeutic and it maintains the strong bond we have.
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