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Opinion - Educational inclusivity in Harambee Prosperity Plan

2021-04-16  Prof Makala Lilemba

Opinion - Educational inclusivity in Harambee Prosperity Plan

At the dawn of Kenyan independence in 1963, Jomo Kenyatta its first president was faced with the mammoth task of building and uniting the new nation. He realised that it was an insurmountable task he was obliged to fulfill with the assistance of all Kenyans, both black and white and to some extent the rehabilitation of the Mau Mau fighters. 

The philosophy of Harambee (let us pull together at once) alluding to the enormous task of building one Kenya, where every citizen took part was hatched. The main foe at that stage was the divisive colonial aftermath from which Kenya was emerging. In addition, true to his word, in education Harambee schools specialising in vocational and technical education mushroomed, which ushered in a sense of self-reliance. 

Of course, it was not a perfect system, but at least it managed to offer and provide some Kenyans with hope in finding vocational and technical education.  After almost three decades of self-rule, Namibia is toy-toying and flirting with the similar philosophy of Harambee from its own political-economic kaleidoscopic panorama. There is nothing wrong with that, but the playing field which was levelled at independence has gone back to square one. 

The philosophy of One Namibia, One Nation though chorused before independence later on became rhetoric and ritualistic, as the slogan was not seriously implemented by the nation itself. Unlike Kenya, Namibia is trying to enforce the philosophy of Harambee now after so many years of independence in which many divisive elements have crept in the nation that it becomes difficult for the political centre to hold together. 

The Harambee Prosperity Plan should therefore start operational at the apex, where there are two ruling parties in one, otherwise the plan becomes obsolete and irrelevant. In addition, Vision 2030 was agreed to as the basis along which to plan the nation’s future stipulating that by 2030 Namibia will transition into an industrialised and globally competitive country of equal opportunity, realising its maximum growth potential in a sustainable manner with improved quality of life for all Namibians. In order for the goal to be achieved, the country needs to develop its human capital and build institutional capacity to absorb the labor force required to respond to the dictates of the economy.

In education, though the Harambee Prosperity Plan is emphasising among other things, the improvement and uplifting the standard of education in the country, a lot needs to be done. We have not as yet seen the mushrooming of vocational and technical institutions like the Harambee schools established at that time of independence in Kenya. The efforts in trying to increase the number of vocational and technical schools seems to appear only on paper. The current vocational and technical colleges have not made much difference in terms of changing the face of the Namibian system of industrialisation. 

The country is not gearing towards producing graduates who can deliver technical and mechanical services, as there is still dependence syndrome on neighbouring countries even on works like engineering. Few vocational and technical schools have been established in the regions immediately after independence, which were supposed to cater for the youth. 

As a consequence of the dearth of these institutions in some regions, many young people roam aimlessly without any occupation and sometimes resort to any violent means which can keep themselves engaged in any exercise. These institutions should have provided and offered short and self-reliant courses in different fields like engineering, hospitality, agriculture, sewing and others which higher tertiary organisations are not teaching.  

The Harambee Prosperity Plan should have eased the state of affairs of our education system by curbing the shortage of textbooks and improving the situation in which inadequate teachers in strategic and important subjects are still prevalent. The concepts of quality and equity as alluded to, in the four goals of education are still as elusive as before the dawn of self-rule and self-determination. 

Katutura is still Katutura educationally wise and Windhoek schools are still shining in their prestigious limelight. The rural schools are as backward and neglected as before in terms of infrastructure and sanitary provision. The teacher-learner ratios are still very high contrary to the ministry of education policy amid supposedly adequate resources. 

At tertiary level, the Harambee Prosperity Plan is not inclusive in many aspects. The promulgation of the plan was set to include every Namibian alluding to the situation that no one is supposed to be left out. Here this policy has performed dismally as many Namibian intellectuals have been deliberately sidelined by the system. Nothing seems to be done to encourage Namibians who are in diaspora to come back home let alone encourage those inside in the country by inspiring them to join the bandwagon of Harambee. How can one explain a situation where Namibian intellectuals are being witch-hunted for unknown crimes? Instead of rehabilitating them if need be, they are taunted and frustrated forcing them to leave their motherland seeking greener pastures elsewhere. Harambee seems to be mute and reluctant to express itself on the issue of brain drain which is slowly catching up with the Namibian intellectuals. 

Although the prospects of Harambee Prosperity Plan seem to be beneficiary to the Namibian nation, it should live up to its intentions by being practical in all aspects, otherwise it will be another strategy on paper gathering dust in offices of government. 

2021-04-16  Prof Makala Lilemba

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