Comparative education as a study is particularly essential in education and the world of research.
In principle, education is a system of decorative means for the culture of society, which can change forms and models in line with life’s requirements to achieve the ideals of a perfect life, reflected in a country’s model and education system.
Government develops the curriculum from the start and sees the need to alter or revise the curriculum. The curriculum is the foundation of any given education system, including that of Namibia. There are different factors that determine and influence the formation and development of education systems in different nations of the world.
Are these factors unique from country to country; did these factors also play a role in determining the development of the education curriculum in Namibia?
From a system of formal education, a national system of education is often described.
I would like to zoom in on some specific factors affecting the education system of our country, at least a bit more obvious in trying times as we experience now. There are various factors to interrogate, namely politics, economics and technology.
The sort of education relies heavily on any country’s financial strength. The financial factor also determines the educational system content and methods. The significance of powerful economic growth, which leads to greater government revenues, is a prevalent theme of research and thus greater public education expenditure (Wales, Magee & Nicolai 2016).
Politics and economics cannot be looked at in isolation when discussing factors that may influence a country’s education system. Economics influences the education system. To expand education access, particularly when targeting marginalised groups, provision of financial support to assure excellence within the education system is needed, which in turn makes provision for credible programmes focused on education quality. Did we achieve this? Are we looking at the government alone to achieve this? How involved are the most profitable businesses in Namibia in realising this? They are some of the questions to think through.
From the economic point of view, education expenditure refers to the amount or percentage of national income that the government and individuals spend on education. If the financial conditions are poor, education will retrograde in many ways while a powerful country’s economy will give unique meaning to instructional objectives and curriculums to help the nation prosper.
The government of the day promotes how the system will be shaped. It is the moral responsibility of the government to identify the curriculum content and purposes. It must be understood that politics have great influence because they have the power to dominate the decision in all the school curricula. This also highlights the fact that a priority should, therefore, be to understand the political structures and incentives behind education systems. Important educational decisions are made through political processes. Politics is the process used by any society to determine how power, wealth, opportunity, status and other social goods are distributed to members of that society. Consequently, curriculum policy must be viewed as part of the general public process and include decision-making on curriculum material, including what body of information should be included or excluded.
The Namibian education system has shifted from a policy that favoured one section of the population and the unequal distribution of resources, to what we have today where equitable state funding is expected. How successful have we been in this? Should we go back to the drawing board?
The aims of the curriculum in relation to developing an information-rich society are to develop information literacy: skills in seeking, evaluating, using and producing information and information sources appropriately. The technology learning area covers two types of technology: material technology and information and communication technology. Learners must become competent in using new information and communication technologies, they must understand the value of information and their roles and responsibilities as citizens in the development of information and communication technology in society. How close has Namibia come to achieve this? What must be done to achieve this? Why is it taking so long to get there?
Education cannot also ignore technological changes. The education system of the country is influenced by technology and especially modern technology. This is observed within the provisions made in the national curriculum. IC replaced BIS in the revised curriculum but how many schools are well equipped to fully implement it? Technology affects both the type of education and the means of education. This revolutionised the whole education system in developed countries. To a certain extent, countries like Namibia, in particular with the emergence of computer technology and Internet technology too. Indeed, the challenge is for education executives and policymakers to ensure that the correct infrastructure is in place to enable ICTs to be fully deployed and to benefit the instructional system in Namibia, as far as possible. How fast can this be accomplished?
The given factors shaped and will continue to shape Namibia’s education system and one ought to realise that even though there was a need to change and adapt the education system, it was not easy. There are several positives brought about by these changes but the transition period took some time as well. Being part of the global community, this required stakeholders to work harder and redouble their efforts to ensure the effective reform took place. Importantly, no education system is perfect. In many ways, it is impressive how far Namibia has come in the 30 years since independence. There are some positives as well as negatives brought about by these factors. I will not dwell on these negatives now as it’s not needed; at least not now.
The main aspect to be understood is the fact that these factors brought about much-desired reform, in the sense that the factors ensured that Namibia’s educational needs and backlogs are addressed to ensure that Namibia develops from a literate society to a knowledge-based society where knowledge is constantly being acquired and renewed, and used for innovation to improve quality of life. One can suggest that, before another Curriculum Review, Namibia’s Education and Policy Developers must engage in a Comparative Study to establish which Factors need to be improved, one by one. Then total reform will take place – both in the curriculum and responding to the factors.
The Covid-19 contributed to worldwide closure of schools. More than 1.2 billion learners are out of the classroom worldwide. As a result, the curriculum has fundamentally changed, with the distinctive increase of e-learning, teaching on digital and remote platforms. Research has shown that online learning increases the retention of knowledge and takes less time, which means that the changes caused by coronavirus can stay. However, can this research apply in the Namibian context? I don’t think so. Where we stand now, politics, economics and technology will pave the way in the much-desired direction. These three factors need to be considered sincerely and looked at in totality, yet not in isolation if our country wishes to rise above the current situation. Politics – without personal interest; economics – prioritised and aligned without corrupt intentions and lastly, technology – seen as a must and put in place as soon as possible. This to ensure that our education system is not losing relevance and further unleash its potential.