Following years of unequal distribution, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has made strides towards ensuring that no learner shares a textbook in public schools anymore, as the previous trend has greatly been reduced.
The education ministry had pledged that by the end of 2013 no Namibian child would be sharing textbooks anymore.
For the 2015/16 fiscal year, a total of 1.1 million textbooks to the value of N$82.2 million for both primary and secondary schools were procured.
Of these, 790 802 textbooks ordered had been intended for secondary schools. Textbooks for junior secondary – revised curriculum – amounts to N$96.8 million. For the 2012/2013 financial year, the national total spent on textbooks through government, the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP), Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) and donations amounted to over N$223 million.
The textbook budget for fiscal year 2013/2014 was N$74.1 million of which N$36.0 million was for primary schools and N$38.1 million for secondary schools.
Currently the average ratio for the use of textbooks at primary schools is one textbook per three learners (1:3), while at secondary school level the ratio is one textbook per two learners (1:2).
This was revealed by Education, Arts and Culture Permanent Secretary Sanet Steenkamp in an interview with New Era. She said that although the promise has not yet been fully realised, the ministry has managed to shift from 1:3 to 1:2 ratio.
In fact, she added the 1:1 (textbook:learner) ratio at some schools has been achieved.
“The ministry remains committed to ensuring that the 1:1 textbook ratio is reached,” she noted. The ministry has however noticed that some schools were unable to reach the 1:1 ratio because they order learning materials with different titles each year, leading to the sidelining of existing learning materials.
“As a result, the school may not meet the shortfall. Another challenge that the ministry has identified is the vandalism of textbooks or disregarding their importance, especially among learners. Teachers can still use many of the textbooks ordered as resource materials or reference books,” she noted.
Asked on the supply of teaching materials, Steenkamp said the supply of learning material and resources to schools is coordinated by the Supply Chain Management Unit within the Directorate of Programmes and Quality Assurance.
To ensure that schools and learners are provided with textbooks, she explained the ministry allocates funds for resource material to regional directorates.
“The ministry’s Supply Chain Management Unit through the regional offices regularly consults with schools through the regional directorates of education, arts and culture in facilitating the ordering and supply of learning resource materials to schools. This way, school management is well versed with the supply chain system of ordering learning resource materials as well as specific deadlines to be met,” she said, adding that the ordering of textbooks is a bottom-up approach and the process is school-driven.
Further, she said, schools identify the gaps and the textbook needs and place orders for learning resource materials based on their needs, adding that in the long run schools are able to order adequate learning materials.
In addition, she said, schools are requested to put in their textbook orders ahead of time each year to ensure that schools meet their needs for learning materials in quality and quantity.
Meanwhile, the ministry has also committed funds towards textbooks, to ensure that all learners are provided with adequate learning materials to enhance learning and knowledge acquisition.