By Frederick Philander
The delivery of quality distance education in Namibia relies on factors such as the creation of an enabling policy environment that promotes the implementation of open learning and distance education with the appropriate financial and human resources.
This view was on Monday expressed by the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, during a consultative seminar on a blueprint for a government policy on open and distant learning.
To her the integration of such an open and distant learning policy into other government policies is crucial.
“In arguing for greater harmonisation of a government’s national ICT policy with its ICT in education and distance education policies, illustrating practically how ICT in education can enable and support distance education policy and delivery, policy often contains a specific vision and goals and plans that, in broad terms, determine the actions required to achieve those goals. Policy exists within governments and extends beyond governments to all levels of society,” she said.
According to Ndjoze-Ojo, the main areas that most national ICT policies seem to address are telecommunications, broadcasting and the Internet.
“The policy is often designed to create a framework for governments to promote these ICTs for the economic and social good of the country. Such policy developments focus on key issues dealing with ICTs, and in doing so they identify the roles and responsibilities of existing agencies and organisations or the creation of new ones,” she asserted.
Any country’s national ICT policy needs to include a strong educational section in several areas.
“Some of these include developing a skilled workforce in the ICT sector, general awareness by all citizens, to encourage the use of ICT-related services, developing new business and increasing existing business using ICTs, and applying ICTs to other areas of a country’s economy. For such policy to be implemented, there is a need for skilled, informed and educated citizens,” she said.
However, most African countries do not have sufficient numbers of such skilled people, and hence their ability to deliver on these policies is questionable.
“By using ICTs to support all sectors of the education system, countries can build up a skilled and informed citizenry that can effectively interpret, apply
and benefit from an ICT policy.
“It is my contention that if we can put in place the necessary environment to encourage the use of ICT for learning, we will also provide the platform for an effective Open and Distance Learning Policy and system which supports the development and improvement in our society and economy,” she concluded.