The Namibian education system foundation has faced a unique health crisis that has it shaken up due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the WHO (2020), Covid-19 is infectious.
Because of how easily it spreads, the virus became known as a pandemic, which resulted in the world coming up with measures to help reduce its spread.
One of these measures was to close down schools, since learners and teachers were at a higher risk of contracting and spreading the virus in Namibia.
According to Jessie, Ian and Leo (2021), this pandemic has affected over a billion students.
It has forced the government to postpone national examinations and close the schools in the meantime.
The Namibian government has also stopped face-to-face teaching and ordered people to strictly practice social distancing.
This new implementation set by the government has resulted in the higher education system migrating to the digital world, which is challenging its ability to respond on time and efficiently.
Different schools were then required to adopt the necessary technologies, find new learning and staff funds to set up a new teaching system and structures – and finally established new teaching protocols and make changes to the school curricula. However, the transition was smooth for some schools but rough for others, particularly those from rural areas in Namibia with limited infrastructure.
Schools all over Namibia were required to fully move to online learning as the new classroom, while the world continues to find ways to control the spread of the virus.
Maricarmen (2021) defined e-learning as “learning based on information and communication technologies (ICTs) with educational interaction between students and the content, students and the instructors or among students through the web”.
“Namibia has a policy on e-learning, known as the Namibian National Open and Distance Learning Policy, which defines e-learning as the “application of ICTs to enhance distance education, implement open learning policies, make learning activities more flexible and enable those learning activities to be distributed among many learning venues”.
However, the migration to a new learning space has faced several major concerns. Teachers, who were used to the traditional teaching delivery method, were expected to embrace technology despite their lack of knowledge in technology.
Academically, although students can learn anything online, learners preferred face-to-face contact, as some of them learn best from observing and directly interacting (Franchi, 2020).
Copeland, McGinnis, Bai, Adams, Nardone, Devadanam and Hudziak (2021) said the pandemic adversely affected students’ behavioural and emotional functioning, particularly attention, and expressing problems such as their mood and wellness behaviour.
This was because of isolation that comes with fewer social interactions among peers, while other students faced many obstacles in a home learning environment, such as lack of technology skills and high internet costs.
Students in rural areas have considered online learning ineffective due to several challenges they encountered.
Among these was a lack of ICT resources, such as laptops and phones, which some parents could not afford.
Another challenge was the poor network in rural areas. This resulted in poor learning outcomes, as they are forced to understand concepts on their own without a teacher or a lecturer present to elaborate on that specific concept at that moment.
Online learning challenges of students varied in terms of type and extent. The lockdown restricted students’ learning experiences and limited their interaction with peers and teachers.
This caused depression, stress and anxiety among students. The anxiety that students experienced does not only come from the threats of Covid-19 itself but also social and physical restrictions, unfamiliarity with new learning platforms and technical issues.
This pandemic has undoubtedly reshaped and pushed the education system to its limits.
However, it is the same thing that will make the education system stronger and survive future threats.
* Ndapewa Nandjebo is a postgraduate student at the International University of Management Namibia. This essay is part of her English Proficiency module.