Nearly 104 000 children in the pre-primary, primary and secondary school phases left school in 2011, while some 99 200 learners in the primary and secondary phases were at risk of dropping out during the same year.
Factors that push learners to drop out of school include poverty, disability, HIV and Aids, teenage motherhood, violence, poor parental support and poverty. In addition, learners also dropped out of school because of grade repetition, poor school and hostel infrastructure and poor access to services and school location.
These figures were revealed by UNICEF country representative Micaela Marques De Sousa while announcing the launch of the Out-of-School-Children (OOSC) Conference, which will be held on Thursday and Friday.
De Sousa added that 16 of the 99 out-of-school adolescents interviewed said they had dropped out of school because they had fallen pregnant.
“Forty-one of the community-based organization respondents in our qualitative survey stated that bullying, sexual harassment or rape was one of the leading causes of school dropout in Namibia,” further stated De Sousa.
She also indicated that parents, children and community-based organizations reported that in some cases children were unlikely to attend school as basic needs such as food and clothing had not been met.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture Sanet Steenkamp stated that the ministry has introduced many progressive policies towards achieving inclusive quality education for all Namibian children.
Steenkamp said that in 2015 the education ministry with the support of UNICEF decided to launch its own OOSC study to understand why, despite progressive policies and increased access to education, many Namibian children still do not complete secondary education.
“The results of the study have provided us with information on the barriers and bottlenecks of inclusive education, with useful recommendations to address the issue of OOSCs and children at risk of dropping out of school.”
She explained that the aim of the conference is to launch the report as part of the advocacy work to respond to barriers which keep children out of school.
The conference is also meant to come up with sets of solutions with clear timelines for progressive uptake of the 19 recommendations which came out of that OOSC report for Namibia by the education ministry.
A key element of the conference will be the inclusion of youth themselves as part of finding solutions and planning for the implementation of recommendations.
Steenkamp said without pre-empting the launch of the report, there are a number of recommendations that centre around distance from schools, extension of grades in schools, hostels, marginalized communities, Grade 10 results and vocational training and policy implementation, among others.