It is often believed that success always results from a sound education. Indeed, many will always argue that for one to ascend to the zenith of the ladder, education is paramount. One can, however, argue that such views are nothing but a fallacy in Namibia. Namibia is awash with so many tertiary institutions, blessed with not one but three universities. All these are packed with undergraduates each year, with tertiary officials and university chancellors conferring certificates, diplomas and degrees to graduates each year. Yet, to one’s amusement, the unemployment rate keeps skyrocketing each year. The question that begs for an answer is, where are we going wrong as a nation?
In some households, if you do not have a job, you are perceived as if your brain is not working. You don’t get the respect you should get as a human being. Society labels you as unskilled, unqualified and below average. “Go to school, study and get a good job”, is what every child is told when growing up. Unfortunately, a university degree does not guarantee you a job in Namibia. It’s a shame to say this, but since independence in 1990, Namibia’s unemployment rate has continued to increase unabated with no clear-cut solutions in place. The Popular Democratic Movement Youth League has welcomed a motion tabled in parliament by one of the party’s lawmakers to debate youth unemployment. This, one would say, has been long- overdue, and one can only hope that the debate of such a motion will bring forth a solution to this scourge. It is important for the source of unemployment to be investigated more closely because there is more that contributes to unemployment than we usually see on the surface.
As a country, do we ever ask why the unemployment rate is so high? There are so many unemployed graduates with no practical experience and huge study loan debts with NSFAF. There are so many school dropouts with no hope of finding a job, and many of them end up in the streets begging, and society labels them as street kids. The high rate of teenage pregnancies results in school dropouts, which inevitably increases the unemployment statistics. It is expected of the government to create jobs for all the unemployed in the country. The question is, are we skilled enough for employment? Have we ever looked closely at our education system to see if it is really equipping our people with the skills needed to make it in life? There is a root cause to the unemployment problem we are facing, and it is imperative that we dig deeper and find solutions that will work. As a society, we need to do our part, and not wait and just look at government. As parents, we expect our children to do well in school and have a bright future. But we also have a part to play in our children’s lives, and that is to support them growing up and making sure they get a good solid foundation that prepares them for adulthood.
Education is free for government schools, and government is investing millions each year. I believe that all investments should have great returns, and currently our government is not getting good returns for the millions ploughed into the sector every year. Is the school system we are investing in serving its purpose? Is our curriculum serving its purpose of preparing our children for the next stage in their lives? Another critical question to ask is whether the country’s tertiary and university programmes do actually match the requirements of the job market. There are so many career fairs held at high schools each year to prepare students for the correct choice of programmes to pursue at tertiary or university level, yet all these efforts do not seem to serve any purpose. Each year as new students enrol in universities, so do graduates flood the streets, unable to secure jobs. There is, therefore, no doubt that our education system is failing not just to provide students with skills that match the job market, but also to enable them to create their own jobs. This is the time for all stakeholders to go back to the drawing board and actively investigate the causes of unemployment in Namibia, and match the education system to industry and the job market.