By Engel Nawatiseb
Debate on the quality of Namibia’s education system cannot take place in isolation from teachers, the Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Marlene Mungunda, has said.
In a speech to education stakeholders in the Oshikoto region during the celebration of “Education for All (EFA)” global week at Oshivelo last weekend, Mungunda said there was need for an education system that was able to produce learners who meet the challenges of the globalised world.
The celebration, to which UNESCO contributed, also highlighted the need to pursue advocacy for the achievement of EFA goals in Namibia.
“Teachers therefore need to be prepared and properly equipped for their important assignments because if the training of teachers does not prepare them for the needs and realities of their students and the challenges facing the profession, then we are failing our teachers and if teachers are not supervised and left to their own devices, then we are failing our children,” said the minister.
“It is important for us to build a dynamic education system, develop a vision that puts economic development in the context of human development and stress the need to set goals and adhere to time frames within which these goals should be met,” she said.
Meeting such goals should be a collective responsibility and should not be left for government alone, hence the need for active involvement of civil society in planning, implementation and monitoring of policies.
Mungunda also said the present generation of adults was morally obliged to do everything in their power to ensure good health, happiness and overall well-being of today’s children.
“The Namibian population is young, with about 70 percent under the age of 30. We are amongst the lucky countries as with so many young people and with children comprising almost half of our population, there is a future to look forward to because today’s children are tomorrow’s strength, vitality and prosperity of our nation,” she said in a speech read by Oshikoto Regional Governor Penda ya Ndakoloh.
She noted that all stakeholders should ensure that the necessary structures at grassroots, local, regional and national levels were in place to encourage and promote policy dialogue aimed at addressing education issues.
Deputy Education Director for Oshikoto region, Andre Struwig, reflected on the positive trends in education in the region, citing an improvement in the pass rate of grade 10s from 46 percent in 2004 to 58.6 percent in 2005.
He said 58.4 percent and 58.1percent were scored between 2006 and 2007 whereas the overall pass rate in the region for all grades was recorded at between 74 and 78 percent for the last four years.
“Quality education is a priority in all our planning activities, therefore the high quantity of learners attending school at the current moment is a clear indication that we are on the road to success with this objective, because we had this in mind when we started to increase the number of schools in the region with five schools per year.”
The regional education authorities wish to ensure that by 2015 all children, particularly girls and those in difficult circumstances, have access to free compulsory primary education, he said.
Struwig said the number of San learners in the Tsumeb and Guinas constituencies from ages one to 20 was 1 583, with 58.9 percent currently attending school in those constituencies.
The region also introduced special education and relevant counsellors to ensure that life skills programmes in schools received the necessary focus important for the learning and education process of every child.
“Further to this, we also prioritise the improvement of every aspect of quality education and ensure excellence so that recognised and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all and especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills,” he said.
A community activist, Melvin Tjiuiju, urged greater support for early educational development, because of the rich benefits.
“Interventions in the early years of childhood offer an extraordinary opportunity to avoid or moderate learning problems and bring lasting benefits to individuals and society, therefore such interventions that support children’s physical, intellectual, social and emotional development lead to increased enrolment and improved progress and performance that is linked to increased economic productivity,” said Tjiuiju.
He further raised concern over the high number of orphans and vulnerable children in the Oshikoto region, especially among the San communities at Okankolo, Oniipa, Eengodhi and Guinas constituencies.
“Early intervention programmes are definitely needed to support positive growth and development of children from disadvantaged backgrounds to eventually give them a fair start in school and life, but it can only be achieved by educating parents on educational programmes for the child holistic development.”
The event was also attended by the former Deputy Minister of Finance Rick Kukuri and Tsumeb Constituency Councillor