By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The first 16 international certificate ITC students at the Namibia College of Open Learning (Namcol) graduated on Monday and received the relevant certificates. The Under-Secretary of Education in the Ministry of Education, Alfred Iiukena, was in attendance. “We are very proud and pleased with our first ICDL certificate-holders after only three months. Our experience with the ICDL is that, in order to succeed, there are certain basic competencies a candidate should possess when registering for this very challenging programme,” said the director of Namcol, Frances Ferreira, when congratulating the graduates. According to her, Namcol has realized that with this ITC programme it has the capacity to meet whatever education challenge it faces. “Thirty-four students were enrolled, of which 12 successfully completed the seven modules of the ICDL by the end of July. In addition, 11 students have obtained start certificates by completing four of the required modules. On the whole, the training went very well with students calling for more of the same ITC opportunities in future,” Ferreira said. Namcol’s staff made several recommendations to the Ministry of Education to improve the training course. “We feel that candidates who obtained at least a D symbol in English in Grade 12, should be selected for the course, which we recommend should be extended to six months and not the present three months duration. Furthermore, we propose that pre-tests be conducted to assess the computer skills of candidates before being allowed into the training course,” she said. At the same occasion Ferreira also handed over prizes to six learners following an essay-writing competition at Namcol. “We have identified the level of English proficiency as a major challenge to our learners. For this reason we have introduced the concept of English weeks as a strategy to assist learners and staff to improve their English proficiency. “Learners were expected to take part in the essay competition at all centres. A total of 174 students took part in the competition in a Grade 10 and Grade 12 category. Six winners were elected and are receiving prizes today,” she said.