By Clemens H. Kashuupulwa
– A critique of self-styled critics of the education system
Behind every successful government in the development process of any country there is always a strong supportive private sector, donor agencies, progressive intellectuals and individual citizens [stakeholders] who make tangible input to effect collective change for a common vision.
However, in many former colonial states, particularly in Africa, development tends to be retarded every year as opportunists remain dancing to the tune of the old system to re-direct the economic revamp into a neo-colonial system.
Being some of the stakeholders, in partnership with the government in the development process of the country, opportunists tend to make no offer on critical issues that affect the nation. They are always using accusatory and self-righteous words – they find fault with the government to justify their hidden agenda.
As stakeholders for change in the development process of the country they too have equal responsibility to give alternatives for change. However, in their bullying political discourse [moves], they tend to be politically astray, abusive, aggressive, intimidating, hostile and unpredictable on their accusatory and self-righteous moves to always justify their reactionary tendencies over national issues.
Many a time, they are provoking progressive forces to react with rage. Being the forces of doom, they are scared of “the unknown and have always little faith in themselves” dreaming often that the world is hostile to them.
Known as society’s “Negative Nellies” their opportunism, resentfulness and frustrations in life throw cold water “on every good idea and crush all glimmers of optimism in the development process of every country”.
In Namibia, we still have such individual opportunists who find fault with government programmes and every leader in the government while they are shy to offer option to change.
This time they keep insisting that “the education system in Namibia is truly not working” – Vision 2030 is not achievable, the SWAPO-Party government has lost direction, the envisaged media council is an outdated concept, the railway construction in the north is not economically viable, the new State House is not needed, the list is long. One wonders what these people really want in the development process of Namibia.
As they form part of Namibia’s stakeholders in the development process of the country, it is high time now to come up with positive solutions by way of making fruitful input to effect collective change for a common vision.
Envisioning for a common objective in many cases is subject to public participation in the decision-making process that affects the lives of our people. It makes individuals more wiser as the nation shares wisdom, experiences and knowledge that are essential for change in the livelihood of our people. Why do they fail to offer option for change?
In the New Era of Friday, 29 February 2008, one Mr Sakaria Kodhi expressed his concern that the “education system in Namibia is truly not working”. This is Mr Kodhi’s democratic right to say so. However, the statement is too ambiguous, superfluous and misleading as the education system in Namibia and elsewhere is made up of primary education, secondary education, tertiary education, adult education, vocational education and long-distance education. He must qualify his statement.
Obviously, Mr Kodhi cannot convince anybody that all those education systems “are truly not working”. This is not a matter of avoiding “positive criticism when it is due”. The issue is about unwarranted rhetorical political criticism without any substance that are open to misinterpretation of facts and hence misleading the nation.
Now you tell me, who’s fooling who?
True, there are many challenges facing Grade 10 to proceed toward Grade 12 since independence. Nobody can defend that or rather ignore.
There are many challenges everywhere in the world when it comes to the passing rate in junior secondary education let alone to the senior secondary school.
It is even worse in many countries without any exception. Wherever did you hear all people having degrees in one country? It is equally laughable for Mr Kodhi to say that “education in Namibia is truly not working” without making any comparison in a form of a survey he has conducted with other countries.
Let it not be misunderstood by many respected readers that this opinion piece is a tit for tat. This is only to clear the mess of opinion expressed by Mr Kodhi that if it is left without feedback, it may be more misinformation for the public.
True, people have mandated elected leaders in SWAPO Party by a clear two-thirds majority to lead them to prosperity through the SWAPO Party manifesto above others in Namibia’s multi-party democratic system.
The government, through its good governance has come up with a strategic long-term development plan, Vision 2030, supported by policy guidelines in all sector ministries.
Also the government’s strategic development plans [NDPs] came into being because of public participation in its formulation and hence is now acceptable as a national development plan.
The same applies to the government policies for every sector ministry. Both the vision of the government, sub-visions of sector ministries and policies are founded on the acceptable administrative practices of result-oriented management [ROM], and principles of the SMART Analysis model of being simple, measurable, realistic and time bound.
The government’s Vision 2030 that is aimed at striving for “a prosperous and industrialized Namibia, developed by her human resources, enjoying peace, harmony and political stability” is simple and measurable for implementation, applicable to the Namibian situation, realistic and time bound for implementation and realization.
Government policies in all sector ministries are implementable and opened for reviews just like the development plans of the government.
These are not static policies and programmes but dynamics for change because of new roles and challenges that are emerging as Namibia is progressing also well towards Vision 2030. These must not be perceived as static policies, development plans, programmes and projects but more dynamic in themselves for change. Hence, the basis of being simple to be understood and implemented, measurable in implementation, applicable to the Namibian situation, realistic for implementation and time bound for achievement is outcome driven.
Now, Mr Kodhi comes up with another general statement that “just as you are fully mandated by the people to develop policies, so should you clear up when policies fail as they often do”.
Policies are open for review in any country as new roles and challenges emerge in any society. There are no static policies in Namibia, it being a democratic country.
There is no identified policy that has failed so far. Even in education which some opportunists describe as “not truly working”, the “policy of quality and decent education” is still on track. What transpired is the implementation process of the policy itself in junior and secondary education that has not been successfully implemented.
At some schools you find that 80 percent drop out in some science subjects and 100 percent pass at other schools.
This indicates that even in some schools Grade 10 and Grade 12 education is improving gradually.
Credit must go where it is due. There are some teachers who are committed to hard work. This is evidenced by learners who proceed to the University of Namibia and Polytechnic of Namibian every year.
Development in Namibia starts with the people. It is a bottom up trend/approach and not vice versa. There is nothing wrong if there is a crisis in education, problem of floods, aids and crime, for us to consult the people.
Our decision-making process is people-oriented to make input on issues that affect their lives. There is nothing wrong for a leader to approach the people to involve themselves in the decision-making process for change that affects their lives.
True, unwarranted criticisms without making any tangible offer to effect change by opportunists have become a disease in Namibia. Being spearheaded by well-known self-styled academicians, some of them Namibian citizens, one wonders where they want to lead the nation to.
If such unsubstantiated political rhetoric is left unchallenged, these may create misunderstanding among the nation to be up in arms against the government. That is what they are looking for. Anyway, the role of the prophets of doom in some society is always to quest for retrogressive haul [to succeed in achieving a higher position in society] through dubious propaganda means. They are not interested in problem-solving at all.
That is their democratic right to do so. But equally, it is also the democratic rights of progressive humankind to uncover their covert agenda to enlighten the public where the society is leading. That is the mandate the SWAPO Party-led government was given to lead Namibia to a bright future.
In a SWOT Analysis, education in Namibia is on track. Its policy of quality and decent education is a life-long process. Our strength lies in the political will of the government to invest every year the lion’s share – above all sector ministries – for institutional development, capacity building for human resources development and training programmes for teachers, and providing their incentives and other school facilities available to improve the learning environment of learners.
True, there are challenges [weaknesses] when it comes to policy implementation, more particularly at junior and senior secondary education that Namibia needs to improve on. There is lack of consistent input by some parents, teachers, learners and principals who are engaged in education on the ground.
However, credit should go to some parents, learners, teachers and principals who make it possible for some learners to break through to tertiary institutions.
The opportunity is there, to improve junior and senior secondary education to strike a balance in lack of input experienced in the past among some parents, learners, teachers and principals who have weaknesses, to put more effort like other parents, learners and teachers who make it possible for some learners to proceed to tertiary education.
It is unfortunate to make people to believe that learners who graduated in their thousands from the university, polytechnic, vocational centres and colleges “are mostly children of the leaders and few lucky ones who schooled in well resourced urban schools”. This statement is also misleading as it implies that all Grade 10 schools in rural areas are performing poorly.
In Oshana Region alone this perception is proved wrong as some Grade 10 schools in rural areas are doing exceptional well compared to those in urban areas.
In Oshana Region alone, among the Grade 10 schools in rural areas, Omuhama, Amutanga, Kapolo, Enguwantale, Etambo and Omagongati Combined Schools in addition to Gabriel Taapopi, Mweshipandeka and Oluno Senior Secondary Schools were qualified to be the top 10 in performing well in the region in 2007.
In 2006, it was Omusimboti, Iiwiyongo, Uukwiyuuwongwe, Kapembe and Omuhama Combined Schools together with Gabriel Taapopi, Mweshipandeka Erundu and Ongwediva Schools that qualified for the top 10 in the region.
Similarly in 2006, all Grade 10 learners at Schuckmannsburg Combined School in Caprivi Region passed their Grade 10 examinations with flying colours and those learners are not children of the leaders!
The opportunity is there to improve Grade 10 results in rural schools. It is not magic, but a matter of allocating qualified teachers to science subject classes while reducing unqualified teachers to the same science subject classes.
Namibia is a peaceful democratic society with peace, harmony and national reconciliation that are respected by the people, as well as the rights of people to life, human dignity, equality and freedom from discrimination, children’s rights, culture, the right to education that are protected by the law.
The learning environment of our children is thus secured and stable. There is no threat at all when it comes to education, making the education system in Namibia truly on track and thriving.
– Clemens H. Kashuupulwa is the Governor of Oshana Region.