NANSO Lashes at Education ‘Time Bomb’

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The weak results of last year’s IGCSE examinations were yesterday strongly deplored and characterised as a potential educational time bomb and a recipe for a looming social catastrophe for the country. The Namibia National Students’ Organisation (NANSO) made this charge yesterday. “NANSO is not impressed with the 2005 IGCSE results, which the Ministry of Education is claiming to have improved. The statistics show that only 2 840 of the 13 850 full-time students have qualified for admission to institutions of higher learning. Our estimation is that 10 000 young people will not be able to further their studies, but will be forced to join the rest of the young people that are morally degenerating on the streets,” claimed NAN-SO’s secretary general, Neville Andre. He claimed that there is no comprehensive response from society in productively accommodating these young people due to the ineffectiveness of the Cambridge education system. “Today, many of our high school graduates become /ina boys and /ina girls (social rejects) and end up in an environment where they have to ‘zulla’ (beg) to survive. We have also observed in the statistics an indication that students have not yet mastered English as a second language, one of the contributing factors for the under performance of Grade 12 learners. The Cambridge system to our mind has produced school graduates who cannot even properly construct a sentence in English, let alone spelling the words,” Andre said. “In addressing the mass exodus of our learners into unproductive sectors of society, we realised that the National Youth Service Scheme is not sufficient enough to accommodate the young masses. It does not have the capacity at this stage. We therefore call on the government and line ministries to collectively come up with strategies geared towards addressing this imminently looming social catastrophe.” NANSO warned about the widening gap between formerly advantaged and formerly disadvantaged schools in terms of results. “The private schools undoubtedly perform the best of all schools. Surely, again this is an indication of the class struggle that continues unabated with the elite having the best access to resources while the poor, whose only weapon against poverty is education, continue to receive the weakest education compounded by a lack of access to resources,” he asserted. His student organisation called on education planners to resign if they cannot perform their educational duties. “They need to take their jobs more seriously to prevent the ‘yearly circus’ of unavailability of classroom space 16 years after Independence. We believe it to be serious corruption if somebody is paid to do a job, but at the end of the day such person continuously commits the same fatal errors. Education planners should learn to keep track of population growth and migration patterns or else resign peacefully,” he urged. NANSO further called on the teachers’ unions to reprimand their members over unprofessional behaviour towards learners. “We call upon NANTU and TUN to seriously reprimand their members who continue to engage in immoral activities such as impregnating school girls and entertaining learners by means of making alcohol accessible to them. We hope the trade unions will be supportive of government efforts in addressing the misbehaviour of some of the teachers,” Andre, who also tongue-lashed parents for continuing to set up shebeens instead of creating a conducive learning atmosphere for their children, said. The student body also welcomed government’s efforts to reduce the classroom problem by availing N$10 million. “We believe that it is not only the government that has the responsibility of looking after the young people, but society as a whole. Society and government must face reality that Vision 2030 remains a pipedream in terms of gaining skilled and competent human capital if we do not accelerate our work towards changing the system. We know that change does not come easy, but the transformation from a capital-based economy to a knowledge-based economy will be long and bitter if something is not done as a matter of urgency,” NANSO warned. Vice president of NANSO, Chris Hawala, informed the press about his organisation’s concerns regarding the weak products the education system produces for the local job market. “The Cambridge educational system was supposed to be learner-centred, but lacks the vocational training needed to prepare students for the job market like in countries such as Germany and Malaysia. Vocational training needs to be strongly emphasised as an integral part of the education system. Presently, we all become planners instead of workers,” Hawala said.