Designing a better future

Education through illustration

14 September 2021 | Education

Alexander Fase, art and production director at Namibia Media Holdings: “Though we are used to producing massive amounts of content on a daily basis, this is undeniably the biggest project we have been a part of”.

Yochanaan Coetzee





Visual media is a universal format that cuts across the barriers of race, language and cultural context. Through illustration and art, humans have expressed their realities for centuries, sharing information, experiences and even lessons by way of cave drawings, hieroglyphics and, nowadays, textbooks and online resources.

For the Namibia Media Holdings (NMH) education project to have its greatest impact, the design and visual impact of the material had to be of the highest, most creative quality, and as colourful as possible.

“The design of a product or certain kind of material can play a very big role in how it’s taken up by people. That is what inspires our NMH production team and myself to find new ways of laying out material so that it can connect with people, inform them, and, in the case of this project, help to educate them,” Alexander Fase, the art and production director at NMH, said.

Nam-spired

While strictly guided by the education ministry-approved national syllabus, the team was given the task of conceptualising the look and feel of the books, the colour palette, fonts and other features.

“We had to make sure that children in the different grades could connect with the content in the booklets. Thus, we went for very simple but colourful scheme for the different grades, and kept the design very clear and uncluttered, as we wanted to make it fun to explore and read, but the focus had to be on the children learning,” he explained.

Creating capacity

In the second year of the project, the scope had widened by 300% and so too the workload, with more grades being added and more translations needing to be done. However, thanks to their passion and commitment to making a contribution to the efforts made by the ministry and other stakeholders for the Namibian child, NMH’s production team stepped up to plate and continue to work long and hard hours.

“I can’t lie, it’s definitely not easy for myself and the team. Though we are used to producing massive amounts of content on a daily basis, this is undeniably the biggest project that we’ve been a part of,” he said.

“Besides our normal duties such as designing our daily papers, advertisements, assisting with audio- producing visual programming for our studios, we had to take on this momentous task of producing 100s of booklets that would be printed in the hundreds of thousands for each grade. So, we had to be on the ball and ensure that all the quality assurance checks were done, in 11 different languages, mind you, and still deliver them to schools across the country on a very strict schedule,” Fase said.

Mass (media) effect

One of the most unique aspects of this project is how quickly content can be updated to match changes in the curriculum, and also, how cost-effective it is to produced and disseminate these materials in comparison to traditional textbooks, etc. which we’ve seen can become outdated and worn due to children sharing resources, as they aren’t able to access them individually.

“Because, we produce so many forms of media, when this project come on board, it was just another element we had to adapt to, and by harnessing NMH’s strengths in compiling information, producing media, printing at scale and even distribution, we are able to do it in a remarkably cost- and time-effective manner.

“That just goes to show how impactful we can be as a private organisation when we are driven to contribute to our country,” he said.

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