Achievements, Shortcomings In The Namibian Education Sector

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Mar 19 16:58:22 UTC 2005

The Free Press Of Namibia
Friday, March 18, 2005 -

Achievements, Shortcomings In The Namibian Education Sector

KASHINDI AUSIKU EDUCATION is sometimes described as 'the key to unlocking
human potential and creating opportunity'. With this in mind, it is
imperative to look at what we have achieved in this field in the last 15
years of our political Independence. The Government deserves credit for
making education a top priority in terms of budget allocations for the
last 15 years.

This is despite the fact that such huge spending did not yield the
envisaged returns. One of the Government's key achievements in education
is the promulgation of the Education Act of 2001 (Act No 16 of 2001). The
Act provides for the provision of accessible, equitable, qualitative and
democratic national education service and other things.

Government must also be applauded for building new schools. Hundreds of
pupils have gained access to formal education, while those who can't find
space have been able to continue their studies through Namcol. The
establishment of the Education Management and Information System (EMIS) is
also a positive step as statistics are very crucial and must be

Furthermore through some education structures such as School Boards, SRCs,
Curriculum Committees/Panels, citizens have been accorded the opportunity
to participate democratically in the country's education process. The
quality of participation in these bodies varies from region to region and
from school to school. However, there are still bodies that require
significant support as they have no capacity to make significant
contribution in education.

SYMPTOMS OF FAILURES It is sad that despite the huge allocation of funds
to education Namibia has low levels of functional literacy and high drop
outs. In addition the education and training offered has failed to prepare
a large number of youths to meet the skills needed in the labour market.

The English language proficiency is another issue that has not improved
much particularly in the rural schools. This contributes much to the high
failure rate and hence fewer learners make it to institutions of higher
learning. The Namibian Constitution is vague on the language policy and
surprisingly the Education Act of 2001 is also silent on the policy.

FAILING SCHOOLS There are a number of schools that can be classified as
'failing schools' as they have not improved much since Independence.
Schools that used to produce good results prior to Independence continue
to do so while a large percentage of those which used to produce poor
results have not changed at all. In most cases poor administration,
serious lack of initiatives and commitment from the personnel in charge
are a recipe of poor performance at the 'failing schools'.

The Government could have introduced performance contracts for all
managers in education in order to make people accountable and thereby
improve performance at all levels of education. Evolution of the Education
ministries since independence Since 1990 the education ministries have
changed names and perhaps in the process have lost focus.

The major change was the formation of the ministries of Basic Education
and Higher Education in 1995. Despite all these changes the question
remains- What did the nation benefit from this evolution? One could
comfortably say very little indeed as no significant improvements on
quality education have been achieved.

The end result was a huge bill to pay for salaries and perks and the
creation of unnecessary bureaucracy. As we reflect on our achievements and
failure maybe it would be in the best interest of the country to merge the
two ministries again and save money.

Pre-primary education is also the foundation of basic education and it was
an error of judgement by those who made a decision to leave it in the
hands of the community. It would be the right move to return it to formal
education in order to address the high failure rate at secondary level.

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