Exam blame game kicks off

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Exam blame game kicks off

ONGWEDIVA – The announcement of the national examination results for grades 11 and 12 last week has sent shock waves through the country as 80% of the candidates who sat for the Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary and the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) levels failed to qualify for admission to tertiary education institutions. 

The results, many say, portray the prospect of a bleak future for the Namibian child, particularly those who sat for the examinations under the spotlight.

There were 38 019 full-time candidates for 2022 Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary (NSSCO) at 363 full-time centres and only 5 812 scored 25 points or higher, allowing them to enter tertiary education while 8 133 (21%) qualified for AS  level in 2023.

This number shows a significant drop with 8 958 candidates when mirrored with the total full-time candidates registered for the national examinations at the same level in 2021. Over 30 000 pupils are spewed out of the formal school system, leaving them with no option but to either redo subjects to improve their grades or get dumped on the streets, leaving them stranded.

Meanwhile, 9 215 of the candidates that were registered at the AS level on both full-time and part-time might qualify at institutions of higher learning based on the combination of their NSSCAS results and NSSCO results of previous years.

In addition, 32 552 candidates who were registered for ordinary level on a part-time basis might also have accumulated improved grades over the past few years to qualify for various courses at different institutions of higher learning.

Blame game

The results have sent the much-needed wake-up call to education stakeholders to get back to the drawing board and scrutinise where they could have gone wrong.

Announcing the results last week in Eenhana, Ohangwena region, education minister Anna Nghipondoka was perplexed by the performance, describing it as “shocking”. While cognisant of the fact that Covid-19 has undeniably left a mark on the mastery of all competencies by learners due to reduced teaching and learning time and a rationalised curriculum at different grade levels, Nghipondoka said effective and efficient quality teaching and learning has not been taking place in many of our schools. 

She pinned blame on many of the teachers.

She also added that due to post-provisioning norms, the ministry did not have a chance to fill all required principals and head of departments (HoD) positions. 

This, however, should not justify the failing rate as “qualified and accountable teachers need no inspector, principal and HoD to do policing on their teaching,” she said.

She called on education directors to ensure that the organisational structures put up for the ministry to carry its mandate are implemented and ensure effective and accountable service delivery at schools.

“Internal efficiency should be taken care of through targeted interventions,” she added.


Youth leagues, unions 

The educators have also received criticism from the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Ephraim Nekongo, labelling them “salary collectors”.

He also said the ministry should focus more on early childhood development as “it is the most efficient education system in the world”.

“The cognitive development of our pupils is almost entirely dependent on the early childhood development phase. It is our view that there should be an increased investment into this sector by ensuring that work conditions are uniform across the various regions and that the practitioners are exposed to continuous professional development initiatives,” said the youth leader.

The woeful performance has also re-ignited conversations on the effectiveness of the new curriculum that was implemented last year, while others question the quality of the Namibian education system.

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) student leader Duminga Ndala, also expressed disappointment, saying the results reflect a lack of seriousness to advance the socio-economic status of the boy and girl child in Namibia. Mincing no words, Ndala said the new curriculum is compromising the quality of the education sector and subsequently, the quality of learners produced.

Ndala called on the school curriculum to be indigenous and reflect on the socioeconomic realities of the country.

“Lastly, the minister and the executive director should resign as a matter of principle. They have demonstrated their incompetence and lack of seriousness in advancing the education sector and transform it for the betterment of the country,” said the student leader.

Supporting similar sentiments is the secretary general of the Teachers Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna), Mahongora Kavihuha, saying the AS level was not properly reviewed and said the education curriculum has now changed for the worse.

He called on President Hage Geingob to accept full accountability for the high failure rate.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani also expressed dissatisfaction with the exam results, saying the results send the youth to the precipice of hopelessness and poverty.

“Ours is a national crisis of immeasurable proportion. We shall give direction on this crisis going forward. No investor pays in so much and gets that output,” he stressed.

In addition, PDM member of parliament Inna Hengari also said the answer to Namibia’s education challenges is better teachers’ training.

Hengari said the training will save Namibia from becoming an illiterate nation.



Nghipondoka added, to curb the high failure rate, tools like school self-evaluation and teacher self-evaluation, through clear target setting, need to be strengthened and used to hold teachers accountable.

“Challenges in terms of resource shortage should be addressed through efforts of internal efficiency in terms of efficient usage of both material and human resources and time. Time as a resource needs to be capitalised on by being time on task oriented at all levels of the ministry to facilitate a smooth flow of service delivery, from head office to every classroom,” she said.

Nghipondoka requested the ministry’s staff to submit the examiners’ report before the end of January 2023.

She said the report should clearly indicate where syllabus misinterpretation could have gone wrong. “This report should be thoroughly studied by respective regions for them to come up with targeted interventions which should be reported on to the executive director at different intervals. These regional action plans should also be informed by specific subject analysis and school plans to hold specific teachers accountable by having individual teachers’ remedial plans,” she said.

– ashikololo@nepc.com.na