Prof. Makala Lilemba
The motive for the liberation war of independence among others was the abolition of Bantu Education as it was discriminatory and dehumanising to the indigenous people.
In an effort to abolish this notorious system militarily, the youth en masse embarked on exile exodus from the early 1970s. Whereas relative strides in education at all levels have been made, a lot more needs to be done.
The primary level
For many years, pre-primary education was in the hands of private organisations and hence was neglected and in shambles. The ministry of education moved in a few years ago and started putting in buildings and teachers, but the aims have not been fully realised throughout the country.
The language policy has been a thorny issue as it is difficult to teach all subjects in mother tongue in a multilinguistic country like Namibia, especially those living in urban areas. Compulsory primary education also took decades to be realised, and even then, inequalities are still prevalent in many schools.
Books in the mother tongue are too scarce and in many cases are out of circulation.
The secondary level
The current grade 11 saga is a case in point as many graduates are stranded because their fate is unknown.
The curriculum is still more theoretical and Science teachers are hard to come by as many schools fail to offer it when it was supposed to be compulsory. Shortage of textbooks is a daily occurrence in our secondary schools.
Yes, strides have been made to upgrade these institutions since their establishment after Independence, but a lot needs and remains to be done.
The quota system at the School of Medicine in its current form of recruiting students per region should not be entertained as people migrate to other regions for many reasons. In a country like Namibia where more than 50% of the population belongs to one ethnic group, care should be taken to include other groups during the recruitment who intends to study medicine and other courses.
In the process of recruitment to the school of medicine, national sentiments and realities on the ground should be taken into consideration. At stake, here is nationalism, which entails that all citizens should be participants in nation building and all people should be equal before the law and have equal access to the national resources. In this vein mechanism like affirmative action should be employed in a fair fashion otherwise, it will lead to further schisms, in a country already torn by political divisions and a history of forced incorporation into the mainland.
Unfortunately, in some public tertiary institutions, individuals are running them as their possessions and unilaterally acquired powers to hire and fire at will. This is always done along ethnic lines, as some ambitious Namibians have adopted a philosophy in which other groups are more equal than others ignoring the fact that many Namibians contributed to the liberation of this country in one way or another. This is an unacademic atmosphere, which should not be allowed in the world of academia.
In extreme cases, the managers of those institutions are mere figureheads, as decisions are made by those from the “Bigger Groups,” so to say. It is an irony that instead of these tertiary institutions accommodating and tolerating progressive, knowledgeable and constructive lecturers, the latter are always frustrated and scorned upon for their wisdom and independent thinking especially if they hail from the western part of Zambezi region.
Notwithstanding a university is a place where academicians debate theories and research findings.
It should be stated that the main aim of an ancient university was to produce educated and trained individuals (Spielvogel, 307) and not zombies.
It is the latter mentality that has stalled African universities from inventing and produce solutions to the continent’s problems. Unfortunately, leaders of tertiary institutions in Africa have followed their political masters by muzzling constructive discourse. These tertiary institutions leaders expect other academicians to tow their line, and if not, the latter is threatened with dismissal.
Curriculum-wise, the tertiary institutions have done relatively well, although, at the Masters level, others have allowed ninety-seven students to be supervised by one lecturer. This is unacceptable in many institutions as this compromises the quality of education and tantamount to education fraud, liable to be prosecuted by the courts of law. In an attempt to curb this evil, the Zambian Ministry of Education has instituted the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which is analogous to the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) to see to the establishment of tertiary institutions.
In cases where the tertiary institutions do not meet the required set standards, closure and suspension are always the outcomes from such exercise and reports. NQA should be tasked to conduct regular assessment of the curricula offered by our tertiary institutions to curb the increasing educational fraud currently emerging on the tertiary front.
With the current population and the abundant resources, Namibia should have done very well even introducing free education at all levels including the tertiary institutions.
In addition, the quality of education should have been better in this country, if the educational authorities at Independence have done their assignment and homework.
The urgency of opening a School of Medicine should have been done immediately after 21 March 1990. This should have saved the country from depending on other nations in this important area of service.