Students Call for Talks

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK A National Consultative Conference on Education, as well as serious concerns over the poor examination results, are two of a number of urgent proposals a student delegation on Friday handed to the country’s Prime Minister, Nahas Angula. A high level delegation consisting of representatives of schools in the capital was led by the Secretary General of the Namibia National Students Organi-sation (NANSO), Neville Andre. The student body, NASEM, was also represented at the closed meeting in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) by its president, Mika Kazondunge. “We call on the Ministry of Education to convene a National Consultative Conference to which all stakeholders in the education sector are invited to discuss and resolve issues the education system is facing. This conference is necessary for stakeholders to sit and give their views on the education system,” reads part of the proposal to the PM. Recommendations for the conference stem from cited indiscipline in schools, Grades 10 and 12 dropouts, automatic promotion, evaluations in schools, the equal distribution and availability of facilities to schools nationally and school management. “Poor learner discipline, lack of practical exercises and facilities at schools and proper training in the English language are in our opinion to a large extent responsible for the poor examination results, especially in Grades 10 and 12. To resolve the disciplinary problems we as students suggest school management and principals must meet more often to collectively share experiences in resolving poor discipline at most of our schools,” the students, who also proposed greater involvement of school boards to help monitor and maintain discipline, stated in writing. They also proposed that English teachers from other countries be employed by the Ministry of Education on long-term contracts. “There exists a lack of qualified and experienced teachers. Furthermore, teachers are not being encouraged to work hard, there exists no proper communication between teachers and parents and school inspectors do not visit schools to monitor teacher performances. School principals should also supervise work performances of teachers and inspect their work unexpectedly,” the students urged. In their opinion, teachers are underpaid, especially rural ones. They therefore suggest incentives that would ensure they stay on at rural schools. The student leaders further told the PM that student bodies at schools are prepared to work closely with management to help solve the growing discipline problem, as well as fight alcohol and drug abuse among learners. “We suggest that well resourced schools when buying new facilities donate old equipment to schools without such facilities. We also urgently call on the private sector to assist schools in buying equipment and that the government also does its share in acquiring such facilities. Students commit themselves to help raise funds by seeking sponsorships in the private sector,” the students proposed. With regard to the alleged automatic promotions of learners in schools, they requested special attention be given to slow learners; that afternoon sessions be introduced for learners to do revision as well as a morning 45-minute work programme. The list of suggestions also included a request for the minister of education to visit schools in order to assess the situation. The students also claimed that: “School hostels are overcrowded and cleanliness and food provision in such facilities leave much to be desired. Matrons at such institutions should be trained to run and maintain hostels better. We suggest only learners without homes in the immediate vicinity of schools be accommodated. “We would also like to urge management, parents and learners to help raise funds to buy beds for use in hostels.” Friday’s delegation consisted of learners from Concordia, Jan Jonker Afri-kaner, Emmanuel Shifidi, Dawid Bezuidenhout, Delta, Centaurus, Augustineum, Jan MÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶hr, Hage Geingob and Ella du Plessis schools.

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