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Opinion - Namibian schools as organisations in society

2021-10-01  Prof Makala Lilemba

Opinion - Namibian schools as organisations in society

During the colonial period, schools in Namibia were used as agents and tools of manipulation, exploitation and oppression in trying to perpetuate the notion of white supremacy. Many books portrayed the image that whites were more superior to blacks and the latter were supposed to be hewers of wood (Ellis 1984; Tabata 1981). Depending on this historical evolution of schooling in Namibia, one can see it lacked quality educational ingredients.


The culture of ‘we-feeling

This is totally non-existent in many schools because of the previous political dispensation which sowed seeds of hate, racism and a deliberate move of divide and rule, pervading the whole teaching profession during that time. 

This trend continues unabated in many schools because of the lack of educational and political will to enforce it. 

In many regions, the issue of ethnicity is pronounced and those from other regions are frankly sidelined from promotions of any sort. 

Unfortunately, the educational administrators are aware of such discrimination and in some cases fuel that. 


Teachers recruitment

The current recruitment system in schools is unprofessional and leaves out the most competent teachers. It is also based on ethnicity as the accompanying requirements are of a nature that teachers should teach in circuits of their origin. 

Although the school board is the recruitment mechanism, its procedures are not in line with professionalism. The applicant approved by the school board is usually recommended and finally appointed despite poor performance in the interview. The only qualification in this case is the ethnic grouping of the applicant. Both NANTU and NANSO have failed to intervene for these recruiting bodies to act nationally


The distribution of resources 

In this regard, few teachers are deployed in the rural areas. Although some teachers may be willing to work in those areas, they became reluctant, because the standard and working conditions are unattractive. Thirty-one years of nationhood with a smaller population, yet many houses for teachers are still grass thatched. Electricity is a rare commodity in many schools, rendering our learners and teachers computer illiterate and can, therefore, not communicate with the outside world through emails, Facebook and internet. 

Textbooks are few in many schools, which forces learners to share them. In some cases, there could be four textbooks for seventy learners. Yet, these learners are expected to perform miracles by passing very well in competition with those students who had enough textbooks. 

It is a fact that even today, the former white schools are more resourced than black schools; yet, the latter are expected to pass with flying colours. Year in and year out, learners perform poorly because of lack of textbooks, yet the educational authorities are playing the ostrich.


Motivating teachers

This is always done in an unprofessional manner, as ethnicity is used as a yardstick for motivating teachers. The connected teachers are the ones who are usually favoured and promoted on a regular basis. 

The hard working ones are always sidelined – and despite the complaints and cries of the affected teachers, the educational authorities seem not to care or take any action. 

The disease and cancer of favouritism has even cloaked tertiary institutions, where only the related ones to the vice chancellors of such organisations are considered for promotion. 

In these institutions, this state of affairs is nothing to hide about because it is very crystal clear.

 What is disturbing is that ministers responsible for such institutions are not doing anything about those discrepancies. The answer is straightforward as their shield is the party list system, which covers them whether or not they perform, provided the president of the party is comfortable with them. 


Repetition and failure rates

Very few learners make it during the examinations, despite being in school throughout the year. 

Last year was even worse because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but this has just fueled the already fragile situation, as many schools have not been doing very well in passing learners. 

Quite surprising, the schools which performed better before Independence are now on the lower level of the passing ladder. There could be reasons contributing to such poor performance, but the fault lies right at the doorstep of the schools coupling with lack of educational resources and inadequate leadership styles in today’s school setups. 


Inspection and assessment procedures

These are hardly carried out efficiently as there is always outcry of transport problems to be used to venture into the rural areas. These areas are the most neglected ones, as they do not have adequate educational resources, lack of qualified teachers and many other facilities, which should make the schools move in the right direction. 

In brief, the school as an organisation in Namibia leaves much to be desired, and consequently fails to deliver educational services as it should be. The result is high failure rate and lack of the attainment of educational objectives and direction from both teachers and learners. 

After thirty-one years of nationhood with abundant resources coupled with a lower population, Namibia should have done better in providing quality education instead of depending on other nationals to satisfy her manpower skills, as lower ranks as nurses. 

The Namibian educational leaders have failed the nation that Namibians have become foreigners in their own country because they cannot compete with other nationals because of a poor and inferior education system.

2021-10-01  Prof Makala Lilemba

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