• July 9th, 2020

Challenges continue to haunt education sector

Despite the fact that the education system has recorded many achievements, the sector also continues to face numerous challenges that have dire consequences on the Namibian child. 
Education expert Dr Hertha Pomuti spoke to New Era on what she makes of the education sector in Namibia 30 years down the line.
She noted there have been achievements and challenges in the education sector since independence in 1990. 

Some of the achievements she mentioned include a number of educational policies that were developed to regulate the governance and practices of the education sector in Namibia. Others include the increase in learner enrolment in primary education from 60% in 1990 to 99% recently, as well as the implementation of Universal Primary Education since 2012 and the secondary education grants have led to a drastic increase in the number of learners.

However, Pomuti said the education sector continues to suffer from various challenges. She said although Namibia’s education system continues to enjoy considerable attention from the government, the budgetary allocation for education has not been adequate.

 Pomuti noted inadequate funds allocation to the development budget has contributed to the low maintenance of school infrastructure, and rapidly expanding enrolments had made the financing of education’s recurrent costs ever more difficult.
She says an increase in learner enrolment continues to pose challenges to the provision of adequate school physical facilities, qualified teachers and other educators.

According to her, not enough attention is given to children with special needs. 
“Access to both special classes and special schools has been limited due to the shortage of places. There is a possibility that the educational needs of a significant number of children with disabilities and special learning needs had not being addressed. Learners with disabilities across all grades also face barriers to education, due to lack of, inter alia, qualified inclusive education teachers, disability-friendly infrastructure, teaching and learning materials, and assistive technologies. Inadequate attention has been given to the safety and health of Namibian learners and students,” she highlighted.
 Moreover, she said there has been an increase in school physical facilities compared to the situation at independence, and the provision of the school feeding programme has reached more beneficiaries over the years.

She applauded that the Namibian senior secondary curricula are benchmarked against international secondary curricula and that there has been an increase in the number of qualified teachers.
Another success she mentioned is the introduction of specific interventions; for example, the mobile school system for the OvaHimba children and satellite schools for the San communities in accordance with their nomadic lifestyle.

In the fourth Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SEACMEQ) assessment, Namibia outperformed some SEACMEQ participating countries in reading. Those SEACMEQ participating countries include Zimbabwe, Uganda, Lesotho, South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, Seychelles, Zanzibar, Malawi and Zambia.

She said the number of inspectors of education and advisory teachers has been too few compared to the number of schools and teachers.
Pomuti opined improvements in teacher qualifications are yet to translate into effective teacher quality, adding a large base of teachers is reported to have difficulties interpreting and implementing the curriculum.

There has not been enough attention paid to technical, vocational education and training (TVET), while she indicated tertiary enrolment continues to be low.
“There is a high percentage of learners who are hungry, who come from unstable families. There is limited parental and community involvement in education. Many learners are orphaned and vulnerable children.
 "There is also a lack of disciplined and overcrowded schools,” she said.
She opposed the idea of focusing on examinations rather than learning, saying this can be detrimental to the quality of teaching and learning, as teachers tend to rely on rote teaching and learning to prepare learners for examinations and tests.

High failure, repetition and dropout rates at all levels; teenage pregnancies; drug and alcohol abuse in schools and communities, and extreme poverty in many communities are some of the challenges she highlighted. ◆

Albertina Nakale
2020-03-20 15:54:29 | 3 months ago

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