NANTU Expresses Concern Over School Results

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Despite serious concerns over the poor Grades 10 and 12 results of last year, the Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) believes the country’s education system can eventually yield a nation of giant intellectuals. “NANTU always prides itself as a union that has a very acute sense of involvement in matters of educational concern. Ideally, we would like to see a situation where the country’s learners obtain a 100 percent pass rate in the final JSC and IGCSE examinations,” NANTU’s Secretary General, Basilius Haingura, told a press conference in Windhoek yesterday. Haingura’s union has analysed the results obtained in relation to equity and quality. “In terms of regional performances it is evident that one would see a region with the least facilities outperforming a region that has the best infrastructure. In the final IGCSE results of 2006, it is evident that Oshikoto Region had the best results followed by the Khomas Region. This situation is very much misleading,” Haingura claimed. In his view, the best performing schools and candidates are still found in the Khomas and Erongo regions “A region can gain a 100 percent grading and perform better, but how many learners are eligible to go to university from that specific region? When one quantifies the results, Oshikoto Region might seem like the best performing region, but in terms of quality, they are inferior,” he said. Haingura added, “Therefore, it is evident that the resources are not equitably distributed and it compromises the quality of education in those regions that could produce better quality, if they were having the same resources as most of the affluent schools in the Khomas and Erongo regions. We have evidence of learners who are graded in all subjects, yet they cannot enter a tertiary institution due to the limited points they obtained.” He further expressed his union’s reservations with regard to the number of dropouts the education system annually produces. “Although the results improve annually, there is still a huge number of learners who leave school and become part of the unskilled work force. Last year, only 3 393 from a total of 27 669 learners qualified to enter tertiary institutions. Our concern is, where will the 24 276 others be dumped to by the system? The same applies to Grade 10 results. Thus, one can conclude that the current education system produces approximately 40 000 dropouts annually,” Haingura said. His union would like to see a situation in which rural schools and underprivileged communities are brought to par with their counterparts in urban areas. “This is needed in terms of facilities, infrastructure and human capacity to enhance an equitable and competitive spirit among schools and the regions as comparisons in the passing rates are drawn along these public declared goals: access, equity, quality and democracy. We nowadays witness the integration of teachers and learners in schools that were exclusively reserved for the privileged minority whites during the colonial era,” Haingura said. The union says that, due to a lack of basically all educational teaching aids, discovery learning is impossible in rural areas. “Facilities such as libraries, Internet access and learning resources for learners in the country are inadequate. Something needs to be done to redress this abnormality. It is virtually impossible for teachers to send out learners to do research as the facilities available are insufficient or non-existent,” Haingura said. He added, “Failure to observe and act on an abnormal situation in the current education system is not only an insult to our nation, but also a catastrophic and blatant disregard to the political ideals we set ourselves upon achieving independence. The philosophy of education, curricula, disciplines and the content of the current education system should be redressed if we want to strive towards a knowledge and skilled-based society. A mere Namibianization of the syllabus will not be enough.” It is NANTU’s belief that education systems are unique to every country, as its dynamics, nature and scope are determined by the needs of its people. “Namibia has its own needs. It is high time that the education planners start addressing these needs and stop fantasising on the successes of foreign education systems,” Haingura said. Evilastus Kaaronda, the Secretary General of the National Union of Namibian Workers, who was present during the press conference, condemned the recent incident in which two learners got involved in cell phone pornography. “We are not condoning the learners’ actions, but we are also not unhappy with the way the schools handled the situation. In fact we condone and support the actions of the schools,” Kaaronda said.