Firstly, allow me to say that, I always prefer to begin with the following whenever I am writing on education; Craft (1984) noted that the word “education” comes from two different Latin roots. They are “educare,” which means to train or to mold, and “educere,” meaning to lead out.
When one gets a proper education, they are led out from weaknesses into strength, from ignorance into consciousness,from darkness into light,from hopeless into hope, and from poverty into economic strength.
Now if education is all about achieving the above mentioned attributes, is our current education capable in uplifting us, so that we can make things happen for ourselves, at the same time contributing to the development of our great nation?
Is our education teaching us to be self-sufficient and empower others in terms food production, technology and health just to name a few, or is it just creating people, who prefer to be just employees not employment creators?
Experts say some of the many causes of unemployment in Namibia are inflation, investment and aggregate demand, which I happen to strongly agree with, but here is some of the reasons I think contributes to it.
These are the main factors, which I think are some of the reasons why we are still struggling with the sky-rocketing unemployment, which currently stands at 47% and expected to reach 48% by the end of 2020 in our country. This is evident, as we seen more qualified youth with degrees on the streets.
This is because of what I call the ‘mis-matched education’ as both government and private job markets do not have the ability to meet the employment demands produced by our education sector. In other words the anability of our curriculum to speak directly to the much needed employment demand of the different sectors!
While on that, one of the disciplines that is really still lacking and neglected by our curriculum, is the vocational and technical skills based education, which I strongly believe is the backbone of many thriving nations in the world, due to its ability to boost industrial, manufacturing and entrepreneurship development.
As the saying goes ‘London and Hongkong were not built by scholars, but artisans and entrepreneurs’
Moreover, it’s even worse if we were to look at our primary and secondary education in Namibia, where a grade 10 or 12 school leaver can not even be able to fix a kitchen sink, or a dinning table nor run a home tuck shop successfully! This is all because of a lack of vocational or entrepreneurship subjects in most schools.
Vocational subjects have always been categorised as non-promotional, so students in turn do not even take them seriously, as they think that, it can not hinder their academic progression or neither help them in their much needed life skills after schooling.
Though government has recently proved to be more committed in investing and reviving the vocational education in some schools, in the new revised curriculum for grade 11 and 12, I still think more needs to be done. Improvements need to be made, as far as infrastructure, equipment and staff training is concerned, and I also think the number of schools offering these subjects should also be increased.
We need to invest more than we currently do in vocational education, from primary to tertiary. This will enable us to produce people who are able to re-invest and plough back their skills in the economy, instead of just being mere government job seekers. People who can open factories and industries, that will absorb and maintain a steady flow of future graduates in the job markets. This also means we will be killing two birds with one stone (employment and entrepreneurship).
The more industries we will have, the more jobs created for these various other professions. For example, it is possible for a clothing manufacturing company like Ramatex to employ human resource officers, an accountant, a training officer, and a PRO at a single time.
Futhermore, our secondary school leaving students should be able to have technical and entrepreneurship skills that can sustain them, without having to lone for a government job. Able to grow their skills, and recruit their other unfortunate peers, so that everyone can not be left out, as they will have something to do based on their level of education.
In conclusion, we need to research more on comparative education, so that we can learn from other countries like China, Japan (Megayo, 2019) and other African countries that have successfully managed to make positive advancements as far as the link between employment and vocational education is concerned.
Its a long road, and vast ocean to cross, but its possible.