The Deputy Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Ester-Anna Nghipondoka, has revealed that the revised Education Act of 2001 is expected to be tabled in Parliament by the end of this year as a Bill.
This comes after the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture reviewed the Education Act of 2001 to harmonise it with the latest developments and current needs of the education system.
The amendments aim to meet the challenges facing the education sector to ensure inclusive and equal access to teaching and learning.
Last year, a steering committee with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and comprised of parents and concerned members of the public, government agencies, teachers’ unions and wider civil society, among other stakeholders, led the process of conducting regional consultations.
Last year, the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, said the newly amended Education Act would align educational programmes to relevant policies and legislation, as well as national objectives such as Vision 2030, the fourth National Development Plan (NDP4) and the Sustainable Development Goals, in order to equip learners with the necessary skills that will drive the future economy.
During the recent official launch of the Integrated School Health Programme between the education ministry and the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Nghipondoka said the Revised Education Act would be tabled before end of 2016.
She said in the revised Act, the Integrated School Health Programme and cooperation between the two ministries are explicitly mentioned, thus creating a durable legal foundation and framework for collaboration between the key line ministries.
The MoU between the two ministries seeks to create a conducive and safe environment for learners and school staff in all schools and hostels based on agreed minimum standards of infrastructure and service.
The two ministries further agreed to promote school health education through the integration of consistent health and hygiene information and messages, particularly in the life skills national curriculum led by the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), as well as train the ministry-appointed teaching staff.
Moreover, she said, the MoU aims to provide school health services to all learners and especially the most vulnerable and marginalized learners, and promote the school feeding programme.
“Through this memorandum of understanding we aim to bring together stakeholders from education, health and social care to explore the issues involved in integrating children’s services at school level and ensure optimal outcomes for our children at large,” she noted.
The objective of the integrated approach is to create an environment through which school-going learners can maximise the development of their cognitive skills, she added.
Nghipondoka said effective learning and holistic participation in school activities depends on the good health of every school-going Namibian.
According to the 2016 15th School Day Report, there are almost 1 800 schools in Namibia with over 700 000 enrolled learners.
A majority of Namibian children and young people spend the better part of a year in school.
This, she says, creates a unique opportunity to reach a vast majority of young people and improve both the education and health status of learners across the nation through truly effective school health programmes.
“We can safely say that by providing support to school-going children and by turning schools into centres of health and cleanliness, future generations will be better prepared to care for their families, the health of communities and promote sustainable development of our environment,” she maintained.
In the quest for the achievement of Vision 2030 in providing robust health and quality, she is hopeful that the programme will also be extended to reach young children before they start with formal education.
“A strong foundation for development is built during the early years. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that we start with the implementation of the Integrated School Health Programme already in the early childhood development centres,” stated the deputy education minister.