The New Era of Friday 26 February 2020 carried two stories which are on face value unconnected, yet a very thick line brings them together.
The first story on page 4 with the title PDM wants increased entry requirements for teachers. The second one is an opinion piece on Thought Leaders titled: Standards of some postgraduate work a cause for concern.
In the first article, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) MP is quoted as having called on educators to consider raising the minimum entry requirements for teaching students in an effort to improve the quality of education in Namibia. In essence, he is attributing poor educational performance of learners in the basic education phase to teachers who are not competent despite having gone through training. Or put bluntly unqualified/ unskilled yet qualified teachers who went for training but not good enough to produce desired results.
In the second story, Professor Jairos Kangira, the Dean for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Namibia and Linea Hamukwaya in their article, expressed in strong language, serious skills gap in some of the postgraduate students. Keep in mind that his department trains teachers. The Dean noted that some “PhD candidates are expected to display high level skills”. But he has “read substandard” works which left him worried.
In the article, they say that “we have noticed that most students who enrol for postgraduate work do not appear prepared”. In a sense, these unprepared students are persons who qualify for the programme because they would have completed their first degree. The University of Namibia is one of the local institutions offering teachers training therefore, the authors were admitting the incompetence of some of the graduates. A very serious confession of his faculty output.
What then can we say? The PDM leader suggested a possible change in the selection of candidates for teachers training, but personally think it will not provide the results he needs. When he spoke (PDM leader), according to the article, he knows teachers in most cases have more than 25 learners in a class.
There is more to teaching and learning than just the selection of student teachers. Anyone with 30 points will not opt for teaching if they have a shot at a better rewarding opportunity. Teaching is much a profession as a calling and not an easy task.
The recommendation to refer the issue to an independent commission is the right move. In as much as entry requirements for training is critical, so is the content, assessment and practical experience of the trainers.
Lawmakers must support the education of our children better than they are doing by ensuring equitable access to education by supplying the right teachers, schooling facilities and other support materials.