Free primary education enrolment exceeds targets

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Windhoek

Since the introduction of free primary education in 2012, the country continues to exceed the target for pre-primary school enrolment of 22 000 by enrolling 24 659 children in 2014 and 34 000 this year, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has revealed.

In essence, the majority of Namibian children are now attending school regardless of their socio-economic situation.

Education, Arts and Culture Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who was motivating the budget for her ministry last week, said N$238 million has been allocated to the pre-primary education programme out of the total budget allocation of N$11.3 billion.

The requested funding of N$11.3 billion would support six programmes namely policy co-ordination and support services, pre-primary, primary, secondary, arts and culture and HIV/AIDS.
She said the money would be use for salaries of pre-primary teachers, the construction of

classes, acquisition of learning and teaching materials, provision of playground facilities as well as other related services to early childhood development services.
“It is not just enough for children to have universal access to free primary education, but it is crucial that our children receive quality education and complete their primary education,” she noted.

Therefore, she said the ministry would collaborate with other ministries and stakeholders to ensure that there are sufficient qualified teachers, classrooms and other condition of services that provide a conducive environment for learners and teachers in schools.

Hanse-Himarwa also revealed that the introduction of free primary education has resulted in a 3 percent increase in learner enrolment on yearly basis and it is expected to increase further.
Phasing out fees at primary education level means that government has to ensure that schools are provided with all basic necessities. Hence, the minister said during the 2014/15 financial year, government disbursed N$135 million to schools for such purposes and the same amount is allocated for the current financial year.

The allocation benefited 462 409 learners from Grade 1 to 7 from 1 723 schools – 6.9 percent of them private schools accounting for 5.9 percent of the total enrollment.
The number of learners enrolled at secondary school level countrywide is 182 945 from Grade 8 to 12 in 694 schools, 8.2 percent of which are private schools accommodating 5.2 percent of the learners.

Hanse-Himarwa said demand for placement in secondary grades is expected to increase with the implementation of free secondary education, which is expected to start in the 2016 academic year.
“Modalities are being worked out, but the ministry promises to plan thoroughly to be able to provide for the expected increased demand,” she said.

Against this background, N$3.5 billion has been allocated for secondary education during this financial year.

The funds provided at school level, Hanse-Himarwa indicated, were used for minor maintenance of school buildings, school excursions, photocopying of learning materials and the purchase of stationery and other day-to-day school necessities.

Further, she said over 2 million textbooks worth N$187 million were procured for both primary and secondary levels this year compared to 806 633 textbooks valued at N$87 million purchased last year.

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