In the past I have maintained that our education system needs solutions because it has not jelled much beyond the formative years of our republic since 1989. The challenges to our education reform and renewal have persisted and the quality of our education has not impressed much.
Schools that were hitherto the cream of the crop has slipped in standards and some of the best school teachers have
left the classroom in search of greener pastures. They have become administrators in government offices, astute business gurus or have retired to lifelong farming.
Like many Namibians I support a large budget for education but seemingly this has not made our education stronger, both in content and output. Teachers throughout our school system battle to keep the process going because of declining discipline among learners, while many of the children take education for granted.
And with teachers not having any weapon to instill discipline, it is all systems go. Parents are at a loss as many lack direct contact with schools. There is limited connection between the class teacher and the parent. Many parents work a full day and do not have time to augment the work of the teachers, principals and the education system in general.
Meet the children on their way to school. Many dress like regular night club dancers with both boys and girls wearing dripping clothes, their shirts hanging over skirts and trousers and hair looking like those of misfits in society. We seem to have lost it all, while we sing “we shall overcome”.
I have in the past maintained that education needs in Namibia do differ from region to region and from school to school in the same city and in the same region. Look at schools like Aukhaikas and Theo Katjimune in Katutura. They battle with proper writing boards, chalks and restrooms. They have no proper class rooms and teachers have no proper work spaces in which to prepare for classes or to consult quietly.
The converse is true that private schools, however, have upgraded, have state of the art facilities and by Namibian standards most of them look like virtual hotels and modern guest houses. Unfortunately, these facilities do not compensate for slipping standards, as most of these schools, like all the rest, struggle to produce quality graduates.
We made mistakes along the way when the state reduced pre-primary education to community centers. These programs had to operate without financial support from the state. Consequently, those parents who could afford took their children to private pre-primary education programs and they made up for the gap in standards, while those who could not afford left their children to rot in these sub-standard kindergardens that proliferated in our poor neighborhoods, such as Vyfrand at Okahandja, Sonderwater, Okahandja Park, Sevende and Agste Laan and others in broader Wndhoek to the north-west. Our education system is wanting and no amount of rationalisation will diffuse this reality.
Education is the cradle for development in all its facets and leaving it to chance is not a tenable option. We cannot have medical technologists, scientists, agronomists and engineers unless our education system is intact. I hold the view that the government of Namibia has made some strides in education planning, but I do not think that education development as things stand, can solely be left in the hands of the state, for the state has virtually run out of ideas to take us through the next phase of education reform and renewal.
We must adapt strategies for education management and administration, more so towards the increasingly marginalized institutions in our society. We must consider extending the school day, so that children can spend more time in the