We all admit that in the last three decades, numerous modifications were done to all aspects of Namibia’s education system. One hopes that education authorities will continue to introduce more targeted reforms that will transform the nature and structure of the country’s education system in more substantial ways. In my opinion, however, I argue that the two ministries of education will need each more than ever before to increase the chances of the success of the new pre-vocational infused curriculum. The question, however, is how should the two ministries of education find each other? Below I suggest two strategies.
Create philosophical understanding of the purpose of the new curriculum
Today, the challenges of Namibia are, among others, include poverty and lack of decent jobs among the youths. Bad education has, for many years, been accused of contributing to these social ills. The introduction of the new pre-vocational infused curriculum was meant to improve the quality of education that Namibian children should receive, which their parents were denied. Ministry operatives at the macro-level need to understand and appreciate this economic and other non-economic objectives of primary, secondary and university education.
I contend that it is only when policy makers of the two departments of education hold a common belief system that all personnel at different levels of the education system will operate in a unified fashion. As we witnessed recently the two ministries of education appear to lack a common belief system especially on issues of teacher training and recruitment and the admission of grade 11 learners into institutions of higher learning.
Across the world, philosophy is the basis from which policies and procedures are developed. Thus, one may suggest that the personnel at the two ministries of education will need a well-articulated belief system that will help them understand and appreciate the reasons why the pre-vocational infused curriculum is highly embraced in this country.
Policy change and alignment
In my humble opinion, I am convinced with absolute certainty that until and unless existing policies and procedures of the two education departments are reviewed and aligned with the new curriculum, our education system will continue to suffocate from the old apartheid legacy. We all agree that the newly introduced pre-vocational curriculum requires qualified and experienced practitioners with both occupational and teaching qualifications. Namibia has such qualified teachers, but the current education authorities continue to relegate them to the bottom of the pile. Human resources practitioners claim that such teachers are unqualified to teach vocational subjects, yet the same TVET teachers are sufficiently qualified to train and provide upskilling courses to their counterparts in general education. First, why wouldn’t any right-thinking person call such a decision dishonest?
Second, why are basic education authorities allowed to humiliate higher education graduates based on flimsy arguments? Third, can basic education authorities differentiate between pre-vocational education and TVET? The last time I checked, the depth and breadth of the two curricular are worlds apart. Fourth, why are higher education authorities and their stakeholders accepting the un-called for professional humiliation of their graduates? Fifth, why are the two departments belonging to the same government permitted to fiercely compete against each other at the expense of national development? I wonder how long this policy feud between the two education departments will continue. The two essential questions, however, are ‘Who owns the new pre-vocational infused curriculum? Who suffers if the intended pre-vocational curriculum is not successfully implemented?’
I believe that if Namibia wants to effectively implement the pre-vocational infused curriculum, the basic and higher education authorities need to approach the concept of curriculum implementation as collectives of equals. In other words, the two education departments need to work as a community with a common desire to improve the children’s skills and the future educational opportunities. Undoubtedly, by developing a common purpose the two departments of education will be able to re-define and re-align teacher recruitment and training policies, which will enhance the implementation of the new curriculum.