Policymakers acknowledge that TVET is crucial to Namibia’s socio-economic development. But, three indefensible inequities continue to exist in the TVET sector.
First, access to vocational training opportunities is limited countrywide. Evidence shows that annually TVET centres receive thousands of applications with only a handful of higher school graduates selected for further studies. This situation leaves most high school graduates without training opportunities and unemployed with an uncertain future. Increased access is a key policy objective in Namibia’s education system. One does not, therefore, understand why education and training authorities continue to ignore this important policy directive. A wait-and-see approach to educational access compromises the socio-economic development of Namibia. Thus, to minimise existing inequities in the TVET sector, policymakers should expand access to vocational training opportunities nationwide. Why are policymakers not taking responsibility of implementing the infrastructural development pillar outlined in the Harambee Prosperity Plan?
Second, evidence suggests that certain groups of the population are under-represented in the vocational education and training process.
For instance, due to cultural and attitudinal reasons, women, the disabled and applicants from rural and poor communities are under-represented. Also, due to economic and geographical conditions, most enrolled students drop out mid-way their studies. Equity suggests that training facilities are fairly distributed countrywide as a pre-condition for avoiding student enrolments based on geographical, socio-economic, disability and gender restrictions.
Third, the quality of vocational education and training differs massively across Namibia. For instance, while some centres have the latest state-of-art training facilities, others rely on outdated equipment. Similarly, while a handful of centres have professionally qualified trainers, most have unqualified teaching staff. Undoubtedly, lack of access to education, uneven distribution of resources and low-quality standards potentially contribute to poor learning outcomes, resulting into unemployed graduates.
By not removing the three inequities, one may insinuate that policymakers acknowledge that the apartheid legacy of educating a few was justifiable. Remember, today Namibia remains the second most unequal country on earth. When do policymakers intend to narrow the poverty gap?
* Dr Godfrey Tubaundule is a senior lecturer at the Namibia University of Science & Technology (NUST), Department Technical and Vocational Education and Training (DTVET).