With the virulent Covid-19 pandemic still ravaging all sectors of society and threatening the education sector, in particular, avid educators such as Leonard Amunime are optimistic the government will weather the storm.
Amunime is the senior education officer for information communication technology (ICT) at the National Institute of Educational Development (NIED).
Amunime has echoed his commitment to the provision of digital education skills to teachers and education managers to ensure the government’s attainment of Vision 2030 – that is to make Namibia an ICT-smart nation
NIED is a directorate within the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MoEAC), which was established in 1990 as a curriculum development centre to spearhead basic education reform and development.
Amunime, however, said the rolling out of programmes that have to do with ICT has not been without challenges.
“My main challenge is how best we, as a ministry, can accelerate the rollout of ICTs in all Namibian schools? How can we go around the challenge of limited resources? And how can we guarantee that the trained ToTs (Training of Trainers) will extend the training to other teachers in their regions or schools with the same knowledge or even better,” he said.
Amunime strongly believes that for Namibia to successfully integrate ICT into the teaching and learning environment, schools should invest in appropriate ICTs devices such as projectors, laptops, or any other ICTs that will boost the effectiveness of ICT integration in teaching and learning.
He further urged teachers to utilise the available ministerial platforms and initiatives such as Schoolink, Kopano, Office 365 (teams), Notemaster, etc.
“Such platforms are not requiring the schools, teachers, learners or parents to spend any cent – and such platforms are safe from cyber-attacks. In addition, such platforms will enable the ministry to have centralised and improved data management,” Amunime said.
He further said it is of the essence that the teachers explore and use available Open educational resources in addition to those prescribed by the MoEAC to access free content, lesson presentations, sample assessment activities and quizzes in various media formats to improve academic outcomes.
Amunime hails from the Oshana region in the northcentral area of Namibia, where he completed his primary and junior secondary schooling – at Oikango Combined school. He attended his secondary education at Iipumbu Secondary school in the same region.
He went on to study at the University of Namibia, where he majored in mathematics and physical science, with another specialisation in education technology.
He is also a holder of a master’s degree in Education Technology from the same university.
“I am grateful to the Oshana region (sic) for sponsoring my undergraduate study,” Amunime says.
Joining civil service
Amunime joined the civil service in the ministry of education upon graduation in 2011.
“I became a teacher at Oshakati Secondary school, Oshana region, from 2011 to 2015. I then moved to Reverend Juuso Shikongo Secondary school, Oshikoto region, from 2016 to 2018. In July 2018, I started work at NIED,” Amunime revealed.
Queried as to whether it was his dream to join the civil service, Amunime does not mince his words.
“Yes, teaching has been my passion ever since my basic school days. I have been assisting my peers, mostly with mathematics, as it was my favourite subject. I enjoy sharing knowledge and explaining concepts to others. Thus, I chose to do education to serve and educate the Namibian child,” Amunime said, adding that currently, he still teaches albeit at a higher level, capacitating educators on how they can integrate ICT in teaching and learning.
As the senior education officer for ICT integration, responsibilities and duties in the ministry of education include assisting the planning, coordination and implementation of Continuous Professional Development related to ICT integration for teachers and school managers.
“And most of the tasks requires a lot of reading, thinking, and writing, resulting in most of the time working at night and during weekends. In addition, most of the time is spent on exploring the availability, usage, and security of different online platforms and developing training materials,” he said.
Amunime is also part of the team that assists with the identification and acquisition of suitable instructional resources to support the implementation and integration of ICTs as pedagogy and tool.
He is also part of the team responsible for planning and overseeing technology professional development for teachers and school managers, developing training manuals and other materials, as well as conducting regional training of trainers (ToTs) workshops in ICT integration.
“It always makes me feel better when I share my expertise with the next person; it could be in terms of explaining how certain concepts work or assisting with ICT. My job allows me to participate in the high-level discussion, of which I got to learn a lot in terms of ICT content,” Amunime said.
He adds that “I always feel good when I have completed my presentations – either online or face-to-face. More especially if it has gone exactly the way I have planned it. Thus, I don’t mind how many presentations or workshops I have to conduct if it is in the area of ICT utilisation”.
Queried on how – in his opinion – his expertise impacts the welfare of the ministry, Amunime oozes confidence.
“I love my work so much; thus, I always spend much of my time exploring and capacitating myself with skills and knowledge in the ICT integration area. I also spend more of my time developing my training materials.
These enable me to lend quality training to my participants. These also enable me to give support without hesitation – more especially when it comes to the usage of online platforms for collaboration, meetings and live data collection,” says Amunime.
He lists coordinating the National ICT in education policy public consultation and presenting both the policy and implementation plan in Omusati, Oshana, Kunene, Ohangwena and Oshikoto as one of his highest achievements.
Also, representing Namibia in various portfolios in southern Africa as well as being the national ICT steering committee member takes the cake.
Clearing the misconception that civil servants are unproductive and inefficient, Amunime maintains his office has been going the extra mile, taking on extra responsibilities in the execution of his job.
“I won’t know what happens in every office – but in the case of my office, I would say the perception is wrong. My office receives extra responsibilities that I have to complete in a limited time,” Amunime said.