Mixed Feelings for Exam Results

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK BOTH teachers’ unions in the country responded with mixed feelings to this year’s HIGCSE and JSE results that were made public yesterday by the Directorate of National Examinations and Assessment in the Ministry of Education. The deputy president of the Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU), Joseph Dinyando was full of praise for the teachers’ commitment to education in the country. “NANTU is very pleased with both improved results, though there is still room for improvement. It is our goal to achieve 100 percent. However, on behalf of the executive committee of our union, I wish to congratulate all teachers, but in particular NANTU members for a job well done,” Dinyando said telephonically. The president of the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN), Gert Jansen also welcomed the improved results but with some caution. “A 1 percent improvement in the HIGCSE results to my union does not represent too much of an achievement. However, there is a slight improvement taking into account the multiple problems the educational system in the country is struggling with, problems my union have consistently brought to the attention of the Ministry of Education,” Jansen said telephonically from Rietfontein in South Africa. The National Assembly during the second session of the Fourth Namibian Parliament earlier this year rejected a motion calling for the review of the country’s educational system. “Teachers have undoubtedly shown greater commitment in teaching over the past year to help more Namibian learners to pass and be admitted to universities. NANTU wishes to commend such teachers for their loyalty to the teaching profession and their contributions towards the achievement of quality education to all Namibians. We encourage Namibian teachers to work even harder during next year,” said Dinyando. According to TUN’s Jansen, problems such as a shortage of school inspectors, low teachers’ salaries, the lack of school facilities and unqualified teachers lie at the core of the weaker than average results particularly in Grade 10 in which less than 50 percent of the candidates passed. “These are the problems that need to be addressed in a pragmatic way and manner by the authorities before any significant results can be achieved across the board. As long as these problems exist, little progress in the quality of education can be expected. Presently, there is for instance only one inspector for every 10 or so schools in the country, a big drawback to the educational system,” Jansen said pessimistically. According to Jansen, inspectors form a necessary part of the education system to assist many of the new and inexperienced teachers employed in the system. “Some teachers are young, whilst others are under qualified and some don’t have proper training to be working in classrooms. They need to be assisted through in-job training programmes to be overseen by inspectors. Furthermore, the process of allowing student teachers into the teaching fraternity is of late too lenient and liberal. The selection process should be more strict to get only the best candidates for the profession,” said Jansen. Due to marked differences in the availability of teachers and educational facilities in rural and urban centres, the results will never really dramatically improve at a national level. “Many schools in rural areas can simply not compete with others in urban towns and cities because they don’t have the necessary facilities to improve the quality of teaching and the subsequent improvement of results. If the government could just build one school in each town per year, the quality of education is finally bound to improve on a broader basis,” Jansen said. *The Ministry of Education, by way of the acting Permanent Secretary Justin Ellis, had no further comment on the results when contacted.