Windhoek-Ndonga-Linena constituency councillor Petrus Kavhura says the Namibian College of Open Learning (Namcol) has yet to assert its presence in rural areas particularly in the Kavango East Region, but its lack of presence negatively affects prospective learners.
He says the lack of a Namcol footprint in rural areas is a disservice to prospective learners intending to upgrade their results so that they can advance academically.
The MP made his remarks during the debate on Vote 10 dealing with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture budget allocation in the National Council, saying records showed there were only 10 Namcol centres in Kavango East.
He said that out of these 10 centres, seven were found in an urban area, namely in Rundu urban constituency, while only three were found in the rural constituencies of Mashare, Ndiyona and Mukwe.
He complained there was no centre in his Ndonga-Linena constituency.
“Obviously rural areas are neglected. I like Namcol’s motto, which is “Taking education to the people. As much as we appreciate this noble idea and its existence since establishment, I am appealing to Namcol to really live by its motto,” he said.
The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture received the biggest chunk of the national budget of N$11.98 billion.
He acknowledged that Namcol does not receive adequate funding for all its operations, but added that the consequences of neglecting rural areas were dire.
He believes some if not many Grade 10 and 12 failures from rural areas will migrate to urban areas to continue with their education at Namcol or in search of employment to sustain their livelihood.
Equally Kavhura noted, other learners who failed to make it to Grade 11 would “give up and hang up their pens if circumstances surrounding registration fees and accommodation in town seemed to be impossible”.
“The scenario here can be both a solution and a problem at the same time. See what problems and solutions are created simultaneously.
“Apart from them securing access to Namcol services you also contribute to creating migration that will be difficult for some in terms of livelihood. For those that decide to stay for good they will throw in the towel,” he said.
He further argued that since the demand for Namcol services is growing rapidly, a need existed for more centres at strategic places around Namibia.
Statistics show the enrolment rate at Namcol centres increased from 16 640 in 2007 to over 40 000 during 2017 academic year countrywide, but the institution could not place many learners due to limited resources and capacity.
Furthermore, the councillor urged Namcol to improve on the first come first serve principle since their centres provided a limited number of study materials, which sometimes caused scrambles for services and learners opting for any other subjects available.
This he added was because students were left without the option to exercise preference and choice but had to take leftovers, or what was available.
He also encouraged schools with the necessary capacity to request or apply for Namcol centres at their respective schools so that they could help mitigate the challenges experienced by learners wishing to upgrade their results.
He therefore, appealed for more funding to the parastatal, saying it played the role of last resort to those that had lost out on formal education.
This year alone, the future of many Grade 10s and 12s who failed to make the grade hung in the balance following the college’s announcement that it would not be able to accommodate most of them due to limited resources and capacity.