The official opposition, DTA of Namibia, exchanged verbal blows yesterday with Education Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa over the Grade 12 results announced this week, which showed a marked decline in the number of learners qualifying for tertiary education.
The DTA blamed the minister for, amongst others, stating that should the tertiary education admission requirement for English be lowered to an E symbol, more learners would qualify for admission. DTA claimed that by making the suggestion Hanse-Himarwa is apparently not concerned with the standard and quality of education in the country.
“Not only is this line of logic beyond comprehension, it is utterly unacceptable, for to follow it through one might as well suggest that we do away with admission requirements altogether,” DTA secretary for finance Nico Smit said in a statement issued yesterday. He said the minister is unaware of the simple principle that by lowering standards, one inevitably compromises quality.
“I hereby wish to express my deepest dissatisfaction with the deplorable results of 2015 Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate exams,” said Smit.
He said, in his opinion, a perfect storm of factors, including wholly inept and incompetent politically appointed leadership at the highest level of the education sector can be blamed for the poor results.
Another puzzling issue, he added, is the common knowledge that students have trouble reading and writing in English when they arrive at tertiary education institutions in Namibia. Yet, it seems as if the minister would prefer to lower the requirement for English, something which is entirely counterintuitive.
Furthermore, Smith said the Swapo-led government has presided over an all-out erosion of quality education, something which will have an immense negative ripple effect throughout society, and scupper any attempt at national development and individual socio-economic advancement.
“The fact that an overwhelming majority of school leavers will not gain access to tertiary education leaves thousands of young Namibians destitute,” he said. If anything, he added, it can at least be agreed by all that the Namibian education system has been consistent in the manner in which it annually produces approximately 20 000 school leavers with very little prospects for a decent life.
According to him, the government introduced the Cambridge education system in Namibia, but failed completely in the implementation thereof, with ultimately dire consequences for the country.
“The very same government implemented universal [free] basic education, despite haphazard planning, with the result being characteristic poor implementation and ultimately catastrophic consequences,” he said.
When contacted for comment Hanse-Himarwa chuckled, saying the DTA’s allegations are not worth commenting on.
“This is the joke of the year. What do they expect from a minister who has been in office for less than a year?” She said the DTA had an interim (colonial) government, but had failed to perform the miracles they are talking about now.
“Let them work hard so that they can be in charge and see what they can come up with.”