Dr Godfrey Tubaundule
Few citizens disagree that the ‘new’ pre-vocational integrated curriculum is the panacea to the skill shortages in Namibia. Politicians are ecstatic that the ‘new’ curriculum will improve the country’s socio-economic landscape. However, education pundits warn against over-exaggerating the strength of the ‘new’ curriculum as inscribed on paper and remind us that ‘a splendid meal is only made possible with delicious ingredients.’ In my opinion, four factors will determine the success of the highly acclaimed ‘new’ pre-vocational integrated Namibian curriculum.
First, evidence worldwide shows that “the quality of teaching and learning depends on the quality of its teachers.” Similarly, one can argue that the success of the ‘new’ skills-oriented curriculum will depend on the quality of its teaching force. The ‘new’ curriculum requires qualified teachers in pedagogy and subject content. The million-dollar question is, ‘how prepared are teachers countrywide to implement the pre-vocational integrated curriculum?’
Second, the ‘new’ curriculum requires resources to succeed. The common excuse that adequately resourcing schools is financially expensive, works against the objectives of the ‘new’ curriculum. If policy makers want to accomplish the objectives of the ‘new’ curriculum, “put your money where your mouth is.” ‘Those that are good at making excuses are seldom good for anything else.’
Successful nations invest in human and physical resources, including libraries, information technology and laboratory facilities. Current inadequate resources in most public schools countrywide will certainly lead the curriculum to ‘miscarry.’
Third, the success of the current pre-vocational curriculum will also depend on the extent to which career guidance and counselling services are mainstreamed in the teaching and learning processes. This suggests that teachers will be required to do more than just academic counselling. Learners across the country will require good career guidance services to help them gain a greater understanding of the labour market and their future career prospects. Also, learners will need help to know themselves in terms of their strengths and weaknesses; what skills and competencies they have, and they need to build on. The question is ‘do learners, particularly in rural public schools have access to good career guidance and counselling services?’
Fourth, the success of the ‘new’ pre-vocational integrated curriculum will depend on the inclusion of a learnership programme during the implementation process. Namibia’s public-school system has for decades been criticised for being too theoretical and elitist.
The current curriculum combines theory and practice at an early age of the children’s development; thus, preparing them for better life opportunities upon graduation and beyond. However, if the ‘new’ curriculum is indeed a skills development programme we ought to ask ourselves four interrelated questions: 1) How will teachers equip learners with work-based skills envisaged in the ‘new’ curriculum? 2) Are theoretical and practical learning opportunities in public schools well-structured? 3) Will learners be sent to industries to acquire the desired work experiences? 4) At what phase and age will the interface between school learning and industry experience take place? Answers to the four questions depend on whether education authorities are keen to establish a learnership programme. The ‘new’ curriculum dictates that learners should be taught trade and soft skills for their personal development and to prepare them for future employment opportunities. How have education authorities countrywide planned to help learners acquire both hard and soft skills? Finally, education authorities need to reflect on the following two questions: 1) Does Namibia have an alternative teaching strategy to learnerships? 2) How will teachers integrate theory and practice to achieve the goals of the ‘new’ curriculum?’ Excuses are the false reasons that hold people back from acting. Act now to serve the ‘new’ curriculum from ‘stillbirth’.
*Dr Godfrey Tubaundule, is Senior Lecturer, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Department: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
2019-11-08 08:35:36 | 8 months ago