In the three decades since Namibia gained independence in 1990, the nation has strived to provide quality education for its citizens. However, the ambitious goals set forth in the “A Profile Education in Namibia” policy, signed by then-Minister of Basic Education John Mutorwa, have faced challenges in implementation, particularly concerning the targeted learner-teacher ratio of 1:35.
Despite the noble intentions behind this policy, the stark reality is that, after 33 years, Namibia has not come close to achieving the stipulated ratio. The repercussions of this disparity are evident in the growing issue of teacher unemployment within the country. One crucial aspect contributing to this problem is the mismatch between the qualifications of teachers and the areas where their expertise is needed.
For instance, a lower primary teacher who pursues a bachelor’s degree may find limited employment opportunities, particularly if their specialisation is tied to a specific language. This creates a scenario where teachers with a medium of instruction in languages like Rukwangali are confined to regions such as Kavango West or East, while their English-speaking counterparts enjoy broader prospects nationwide.
To address this pressing challenge, the Namibian government must take decisive action on two fronts: policy enforcement and infrastructure development.
Firstly, strict enforcement of the learner-teacher ratio outlined in the education policy is paramount. By ensuring that classrooms maintain the recommended ratio of 1:35, the government can create a demand for more teachers, subsequently reducing unemployment in the teaching sector. This requires a comprehensive assessment of existing school capacities and the allocation of resources to achieve optimal teacher distribution.
Secondly, there is a need for substantial investment in the expansion and construction of schools. The current limitations on teacher employment are exacerbated by a shortage of educational institutions. Building more schools, especially in areas with a growing population of learners, will not only enhance the learning environment but also create employment opportunities for qualified teachers.
In conclusion, the unemployment of teachers in Namibia is an all-round issue that demands a holistic approach. The government must reinvigorate its commitment to the “A Profile Education in Namibia” policy, ensuring its effective implementation and addressing the persistent challenges hindering the achievement of the targeted learner-teacher ratio.
Simultaneously, investments in infrastructure, particularly the construction of additional schools, are crucial to accommodate the increasing number of learners and provide employment opportunities for qualified educators.
Only through these concerted efforts can Namibia pave the way for a brighter future, where teachers find fulfilment in their profession, and every child has access to quality education.
*Joseph Ruzendo is a teacher and freelance writer. The views expressed here are his own.