At the end of May, Namibia was presented with the fifth incarnation of our National Development Plan (NDP 5). All aspects of over economy, society and development are contained within these plans and the very first national development plan started the development of Namibia that we see today.
Not just governmentally as a strong and stable democracy, but also one of the most competitive countries on the African continent.
As the chief executive officer of Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), all aspects of Namibia’s developmental plans hold my interest, but of course, I was especially focused on the educational plans and activities within NDP 5.
The plans and goals are ambitious to say the least, but it is vital that Namibia and Namibians of all ages work together to try and achieve these goals. Only then can we as a nation continue to move forward.
NDP 5 is tackling education at the most basic levels. It states that by 2022 Namibian children aged 0-8 years will have a secure educational foundation, through access to early childhood development services.
Without a solid basis, our children can never be ready for secondary school and beyond, which is where we need to focus and it starts at the very beginning, with more qualified caregivers and access to education for all, wherever they may reside in the Land of the Brave.
The goal is that by 2022 all learners have access to equitable inclusive quality education that qualifies them to pursue higher education. This is where we as NSFAF shine. We want to get as many learners to make the leap from secondary school to tertiary education and are here to assist them financially.
However, limited resources limit our work, as with every organisation. This means we need to be sure that the ‘potential’ students getting financial assistance in one form or another are successful in their pursuit of a degree.
The goals of NDP 5 from an educational point of view don’t end there. Learners, graduates and young professionals need skills that are useful – not only beneficial, but their skills, training and education need to match employers requirements.
That is why by 2022 Namibia will have an education system that responds to industry’s needs. This means investing in technical, vocational education & training strategies and increasing enrolment of students in these centres by 50,000 in 2022.
NSFAF is a great supporter and believer in this method of teaching our youngsters. The universities and tertiary institutions don’t have the capacity for all school leavers. However, we need technically skilled staff as much as we need doctors, lawyers and engineers, for example.
This is not all: the higher education goals are just as ambitious and seek to create an environment whereby 70% of all those enrolled in tertiary education complete their courses.
This is essential for NSFAF, as well. As and when we invest in students, knowing that they will become productive salaried members of the workforce means we know they will have the means and opportunity to repay their loan.
I have been involved with education for many years and seeing such a bold plan of action and checks and balances in place, makes me very happy, knowing that our government and institutions, like NSFAF, are aligned and work together to improve access to education and the level and quality of education for our learners across the board.
It gives me an enormous sense of confidence in our country and our future, that as long as we work together as a singular team that is laser-focused on achieving the NDP 5 goals by 2022, and hopefully some even before then.
* Hilya Nghiwete is the chief executive officer of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund.