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Education cuts will ‘put children at risk’

2021-01-07  Albertina Nakale

Education cuts will ‘put children at risk’

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), in partnership with the European Union (EU), have discouraged the Namibian authorities not to enforce cuts to the education budget as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The two bodies want local stakeholders to take advantage of digitalisation and reimagine its education system amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 
In a joint statement, both parties say education budgets must be protected from cuts as the global economic crisis bites. 
“Education must be seen as part of the Covid-19 recovery plan: rather than diverting finances away; more investment is needed in the education system to provide the population with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to be actors of the recovery and not victims,” the statement reads. 

Equally, they say spending must also be better controlled and monitored. For Namibia, a government report indicates that about 804 079 primary to secondary school learners (about one-third of the total population) were not in school when the country went into lockdown in March 2020. 

The lockdown resulted in children losing out on school days – an average of 76 schooling days in the primary phases and 67 school days in the secondary phases were lost due to the lockdown. 

Furthermore, they say digital literacy and digital access will also benefit older adults, persons with disabilities, underprivileged groups and ensure parents stay connected and have access to information received by their children to perform even their civil duties. 
Although the scale of the problems brought forth by the pandemic requires a global and coordinated response, the EU and Unicef intend to be at the forefront of that response and be joined by other development partners, including the private sector. 

Both pledged commitments to work with the Namibian government and the education community to jointly develop a national action plan, to pave the way for equitable, as well as quality education for all.  
EU and Unicef also recommended to Namibia that it is important not only to pursue digital inclusion and equity but also to take advantage of the technology and make it an opportunity for all. 

The EU and Unicef praised Namibia for the continued learning through the development, printing and dissemination of over three million booklets for pre-primary to grade 7 learners and printing of braille learning materials for learners with visual impairments. 

2021-01-07  Albertina Nakale

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