By William J. Mbangula Oshakati Prime Minister Nahas Angula says continuous criticisms of the Namibia College of Open Learning (Namcol) is misplaced and borders on perception problems. Instead of blindly criticising Namcol, he noted, the entire nation should support the institution because it has accommodated many learners who have been rejected by the formal system. If Namcol was not there, the PM asked, what would have happened to the rest of the 28 000 learners currently enrolled with the college? “The college has done a remarkable job in terms of customer focus and delivery. It has grown in relevance and stature. From very humble beginnings in 1997, it has grown to become the largest educational institution in Namibia in terms of student intake. When I look at this remarkable growth and development, I cannot help but agree with Emmet Fox that ‘a person dies daily, only to be reborn in the morning, bigger, better and wiser’.” He also lauded Namcol as one of the valuable strategic partners of the government with a learner enrolment of 28 000 and 1 000 teachers from the formal education sector as tutors at about 100 centres countrywide. In some cases, the college recruits expertise from the government, parastatals and private institutions, especially the financial sector. Through such engagements, the college influences many different sectors of society. The Premier was speaking at the official inauguration of the N$4-million regional offices at Ongwediva on Friday. He was accompanied by the Minister of Education Nangolo Mbumba and John Mutorwa, the Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture. Also in attendance was the Governor of Oshikoto region Penda ya Ndakolo, who stood in for Oshana Governor Clemens Kashuupulwa. Namcol was saluted for the “wise decision” to extend some of the services it renders at the head office in Windhoek to the regional office at Ongwediva. The inaugurated office is equipped with a state-of-the-art computer-based learning centre, laboratory and a bookshop. Such facilities are expected to provide computer skills training to the out of school youths and adults. Courses offered include the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL). According to Angula, Namcol’s new enhanced focus would be the provision of vocational skills courses in preparation for the job market, expansion of the ICT (Instruction in Computer Technology) in schools, provision of INSET for school leaders and whole school development and preparation for ECD/pre-primary carers/teachers. He also praised the Ongwediva Town Council for allocating land to Namcol, which he said is an indication that the town is progressing well in developing itself. “I think this place should be known as the City of Learning because it has a history of educational training. It has so far the College of Education, two senior secondary schools, a vocational training centre, an envisaged Unam campus and many primary schools.” The Premier and Mbumba were some of the students in the early 1960s at Ongwediva before they left for exile together. Ongwediva then was only known for its educational institutions run by missionaries and later by the government. The Namcol facility at Ongwediva will soon be expanded as part of the second phase to add a hall, classrooms and extra sanitation facilities. Namcol Regional Manager Paavo Pea told New Era that this would cost N$4 million, thus bringing the total cost of the entire facility (phase one and two together) to N$8 million.
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