The Seventh-day Adventist Church has opened its first school in Namibia after 63 years, and enrollment has soared following the first week of classes.
The Mavuluma Seventh-day Adventist Primary School opened with 37 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through third grade on Jan. 13. A week later, the number had jumped to 56 children.
“The school will continue to provide more grade levels as enrollment increases,” Maranatha Volunteers International, which constructed the school, said in a statement.
Maranatha, a supporting ministry of the Adventist Church, raised the school in seven days last year on the property of the Mavuluma Adventist Church in Katima Mulilo, a city of about 30,000 people and the capital of the African country’s Zambezi Region.
The school consists of 12 One-Day School classrooms.
The school brings Adventist education to an area with many Adventist believers and few public schools. About 80 percent of the 18,000 church members in Namibia live in the Zambezi Region. The region itself has a severe shortage of schools, with more than 12,000 students studying in 20 schools, according to local media reports.
The first Adventist school opened in 1920 in the territory of present-day Namibia, which was then a German colony. Twelve more schools followed. All the schools closed in 1943, in the middle of World War II. South Africa claimed the territory after the war, and Namibia only gained independence in 1990.
The Mavuluma Adventist Church started a daycare and preschool in its sanctuary six years ago, hoping to grow the program into a full elementary school. But fundraising was a constant challenge, and Adventist leaders in Namibia asked Maranatha to assist with the school project in 2013. The group of Maranatha volunteers built the campus in March 2015.
Namibia’s government has expressed strong support for the new school.
"This school will cater for the values missing in secular schools,” Ignatius Nkunga, an aide to the Zambezi Region’s governor, said when construction of the school finished last year, Namibia’s New Era newspaper reported. “I encourage the church to continue with this gesture."
Church leaders have indicated that they do hope to open more schools.
“We need to … plant several schools,” said Tankiso Letseli, who served as president of the Adventist Church’s Southern Africa Union Conference until December 2015 and now teaches at Helderberg College in South Africa.
“We believe that when there is a school, there is a center of influence,” he said, according to a statement released by Maranatha last year.