Criticism Disregards Gains in Education

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THIS letter is a response to the comments made by Nantu’s northern regional leadership, which appeared in the New Era newspaper of Monday 28 November 2005. It is also a response to the constant criticism from the public and members of parliament about the education system. Mr Simion Kavila of Nantu called on the Ministry of Education to start constructing schools to address the problem of overcrowding in schools. He raised concerns that a group of people were removed from their land for the construction of schools, namely, the Eheke Junior Secondary School and Uupindi Primary School. The Ministry admits that construction has been delayed for various reasons beyond our control. Feasibility studies for these two schools were done during the 2002/2003 financial year. Consultants were appointed for the design and supervision of the two projects during the 2003/2004 financial year. Tender recommendations were submitted, but due to constant delays caused by various factors beyond our control, tenders have yet to be awarded. Mr Kavila also expressed concern about the slow pace of decentralisation in the four north-central education regions. The four regions are still operating from Ondangwa in the Oshana Region, but plans are under way for the regional offices to move to their respective regional capitals. It should however be pointed out that such a move is contingent on acquiring suitable office accommodation. The Education Ministry has witnessed constant criticism from members of the public and members of parliament alike on the high failure rates in grades 10 and 12 respectively, some describing the education system as being ineffective and irrelevant to today’s societal needs. There have also been calls from different sectors of society for the system to be reviewed. Despite extensive reports by the media on the Ministry’s current drive to improve the education sector through the development of the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP), criticism of the system continues unabated. Such criticism that disregards what is being done to address weaknesses identified over the years in our education sector is not constructive at all. “ETSIP is premised on a realization that Namibia cannot count on a weak education and training system to facilitate the attainment of complex and ambitious national development goals.”- (ETSIP Programme Document, pg.6). ETSIP clearly outlines and clarifies the sector’s priorities, systems that need to be developed and/or need improvement, in order to improve the delivery of the education system. The First Phase (2005/6 to 2010/11) of ETSIP will focus on strengthening the supply of skilled labour to meet labour market demands and consequently the acceleration of economic growth through increased productivity. The Ministry is fully cognisant of the fact that the ETSIP document is not cast in stone and will continuously be improved upon to align it with emerging needs. Members of the public are therefore invited to obtain a copy of the Working Draft for the First Phase (2006-2011) of ETSIP at the Ministry’s Central Information Office. The Working Draft is also available on one of the Ministry’s directorate’s websites (National Institute for Educational Development) at www.nied.edu.na Yours in Education Vitalis Ankama Permanent Secretary

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