By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK A serious call for a national forum discussion on education and suggestions that education planners be taken to task for the yearly poor examination results, were some of the critical proposals made this week. This criticism came from some influential ruling party members as a sequel to a ministerial statement on the state of education in the National Assembly on Wednesday by the Minister of Education, Nangolo Mbumba. “The issue of education in the country is a very critical one in which people consistently complain. We basically spend one quarter of the national budget on it, and yet, the problems remain year in and out,” Swapo’s Chief Whip, Ben Amathila, stated in his contribution towards the debate. He was of the opinion that as a small country, Namibia has the potential to deliver the best education in the African sub-region and elsewhere. “We cannot let our children down. They must carry the education torch forward, but are they motivated enough and do they understand that parents only want the best for them; do we really get value for our money spent on education; are teachers and inspectors properly doing their job for which they get paid?” were some of the questions posed by Amathila, who called for a national platform to discuss education in the country. To confirm the seriousness of the education situation in the country, the Speaker, Theo-Ben Gurirab, made a spot survey requesting all former teachers in the House to rise to which more than 20 MP’s proudly stood up. Outspoken and fiery Swapo member, Peya Mushelenga, accused education planners of not properly doing their jobs. “We have enough planners, but seemingly, they are planning for learners to perpetually fail as evidenced by the recent poor examination results in the country. To my mind, these planners are supposed to plan for improvements, something that has not happened over the past five years. It think it is time that they should be taken to task because of these persistent poor results,” Mushelenga said. He suggested a national evaluation assessment of all teachers in the country as a first step to plan for the future of education. “To those academics expressing doubts about the education system in the country, you have all the facilities to do better research on the problems of primary and secondary education. Why don’t you do such research and come up with recommendations instead of criticizing?” Mushelenga asked. Former Prime Minister, Hage Geingob, admitted in his contribution that education in the country is a real problem. “There is no doubt that all of us are concerned about education. The problems of education ensued after independence when we chose a new path to improve education. Where have we gone wrong with education? We need an education system to progressively move forward as part of Vision 2030. We can tackle the education problems one by one, but presently, there is too many loose talk going around,” Geingob said. In his opinion the Cambridge Education System is merely a name and by his own admission it was too hastily implemented. “However, it is a problem-solving system. The former education system in the country didn’t allow for conceptualization like the Cambridge Education System. That’s why I say, we should not throw out the baby with the bath water by getting rid of the education system. We must find collective solutions to all the problems we face in education,” Geingob advised. In his contribution, leader of the DTA and former teacher, Katuutire Kaura, expressed deep concern about the negative outcomes of the Cambridge Education System. “Some of our children cannot properly read after three years in school under the present education system and the high dropout rate is a very serious problem in the secondary phase of the system. On average, 24 000 learners per year drop out. If this trend is not stopped, in my estimation a total of 800 000 learners would have dropped out within the next thirty years, lost to the country. We need to do something to turn the situation around,” Kaura said.
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