Windhoek-In terms of the third pillar of the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) concerning social transformation, Namibia requires substantial and targeted activity in the field of education. This encompasses early education, primary and secondary education, tertiary education and development of technical and vocational skills.
Says Jerome Mutumba, senior communication manager of the Dvelopment Bank of Namibia (DBN): “The goal of education is not just aimed at fulfilling current needs, but it is a long-term goal, which requires firstly, that individuals in current generations are able to improve the well-being of themselves and their dependents, secondly, that subsequent generations are able to maintain the well-being that they receive from their parent generations, and thirdly that subsequent generations are able to further develop their wealth.”
Development of education capacity and infrastructure is an absolute prerequisite for the long-term prosperity of Namibia, Mutumba notes.
Talking about the role of DBN in the development of education, Mutumba says that the Bank has a twofold commitment to education. Its primary commitment is developmentally beneficial commercial lending for development and expansion of educational facilities, and its secondary commitment is corporate social investment in educational entities that cannot sustain repayment of loans.
In terms of commercial lending to private sector institutions, Mutumba notes that this relieves pressure on public sector education. The more classrooms provided by the private sector, the more manageable the requirement for the public sector.
Expansion in private education is motivated by specific requirements. Growth of primary and secondary education is driven by parents and caregivers seeking specific characteristics of educational institutions. These can be smaller class sizes and/or non-secular components.
Tertiary students, Mutumba says, have specific requirements of education, and may be driven to private tertiary institutions to fulfill their needs.
The Bank has in the past provided finance to the International University of Management (IUM). Although the Bank does not lend to public sector primary and secondary institutions, it can assist tertiary education, which benefits from fees paid by students.
Mutumba adds that there is also a pressing need for vocational training. He points to the fact that the shortage of these skills is hampering industrialisation. With a larger pool of vocational skills to draw on, new enterprises can be established to support manufacturing and other sectors, and a greater degree of value adding to Namibia’s resources can take place. He says that poaching of skilled and experienced staff also poses a threat to the productivity of existing companies.
Although the Bank does not make loans to public sector primary and tertiary education, it does contribute to alleviation of needs through corporate social investment. The Bank invests in direct donations to the field, as well as donations to educational support programmes. It has in the past assisted with reconstruction of a hostel damaged by flooding, finance for construction of a school hall, and provided chairs for learners, among others.
Namibia’s ambitions and future are intricately connected to its capacity to educate its citizens and equip them with the skills to further its development. However, it needs to do more to support private education, and expect more of it, Mutumba says.