By Frederick Philander
The Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) this week heavily criticized and described the Namibian educational standards as a national calamity.
This was done in a strongly-worded press release on behalf of the PSUN by its secretary general, Victor Kazonyati.
“The Ministry of Education has eventually released the long awaited grade 12 results amid general confusion and the pervasive inconsistency in the education system. This week marks the beginning of the academic calendar at our tertiary institutions. The poor prospective new entrants to these institutions have had to be kept in the dark about their prospects until the last minute, virtually,” said Kazonyati.
In his view student results are very important indicators for future planning and the placement of students at various institutions of further learning.
“Admission to further learning is invariably a function of the level of grade achieved by the learner and as a result is an important barometer for what action needs to be taken next, by the parents.
“In the current circumstances, how are parents expected to order and manage the future academic affairs of their children, yet at every turn they are reminded by Government about their responsibility in the education of their children?” he asked.
The union claims that this year again the ministry and the Government at large are mute as to the reason for the delay of the Grade 12 results.
“The grades 10 and 12 results 2007, released last year and those released earlier this week respectively, regrettably tell the same old sad story of gloom and doom. We have now entered the 18th year of our independence and instead of seeing improvement or a rise in our educational standards we only experience steady and consistent decline in standards, not only experienced at grade school levels, but at tertiary levels as well – which is not surprising, given the negative trend,” the PSUN secretary said.
“The way things stand it is surprising to hear that our students will now be admitted to pursue further studies at South African institutions of higher learning – given the poor and declining standards.
“The only things that have changed seem to be the names of the examining bodies – from International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) to Namibian Secondary School Certificate (NSSC) but quality-wise, things have changed only for the worse, so what is there to have influenced the South Africa institutions to now admit our students?” Kazonyati asked.
At the employment level many an employer has started to lament the standards of many a graduate from especially our local university, he said. “Reports emanating from regional bodies such as SADC paint an uncompromisingly gloomy picture of the Namibian educational situation – placing us at the bottom end of the pecking order of national standards.
“The sad thing about all this is that there seems to be nothing tangible that one can point at to indicate a reversal of the situation. It is hardly reasonable to expect our tertiary institution, for example, to nurture and produce glittering graduates beaming with well-researched knowledge and other academic accolades if the institutions at which they study are starved of funds by Government primarily.
“Without money, they cannot secure the necessary material and other resources to provide a sound education,” Kazonyati said
The explanation that Government has consistently been dishing out as an excuse for failure to provide a reasonable standard of performance of its functions, is that it lacks funds.
“This kind of an excuse is no more tenable here than it could be in a place like Botswana, for argument’s sake. Namibia is in every respect a rich country, or at least so it ought to be. It will be remembered that our application to have the ignominious ‘poor nation status’ bestowed on us a few years ago failed dismally.
“The reason for the failure of the application was and still is the simple fact that we are not a poor country at all. Botswana, which is almost similarly, if only slightly less resourced than ourselves, is poignantly well-off in all the economic sense of being well off,” he said.