Interventions needed to improve English pass rate

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Nuusita Ashipala

Outapi-The Deputy Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Ester Anna Nghipondoka has tasked principals and education managers to earnestly interrogate the causes of high English subject failure at schools.
Speaking at a principals and inspectors’ meeting in Omusati region on Thursday, Nghipondoka said if nothing is done, Namibian children will continue to suffer.

The deputy minister said introspection should include ensuring that learners are taught in English, except in the lower grades where the vernacular is the medium of instruction.

In last year’s national examination, 45.6 percent of learners passed English with symbols ranging between A and D while only 12.4 percent in Grade 12 passed English in Omusati region.

“Our principals need to facilitate a process of introspection of how English is taught at our schools in order to identify the causes of the high failure rate in English, especially at Grade 12 level,” said Nghipondoka.
“Every challenge, including English as a subject, can be addressed if you are strategic and adopt an inquiry stance. For your school to succeed, there has to be a systematic approach to solving issues that are pulling you back. If need be, unpopular decisions have to be made if we are serious about maintaining standards at schools,” Nghipondoka said.

English ‘talks’ sparked soon after the Grade 12 results were released with the public calling on tertiary institutions to lower the English symbol required for enrolment.

At the time, the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa welcomed debates in that regard.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister said the scope determining the number of learners at tertiary level should also be broadened beyond the University of Namibia, the University of Science and Technology and the International University of Management.

She said although a high number did not qualify to be admitted to the three universities this year, some are enrolled at other accredited institutions in the country.

Meanwhile, the meeting resolved to set up a ‘language clinic project’ as an intervention to see how best to improve English results by at least 20 percent at the exit
grades.

The project will be implemented at schools and those attached to schools will aid in sourcing viable materials and identify best teaching methodologies.

The director of education Laban Shapange said the project would not interfere with day-to-day activities as it will be done in the afternoon.

At the same time, Nghipondoka also appealed to teachers to ensure that no learner remains in Grade 10 this year, as it will pose unwarranted complications.

With the new curriculum expected to be implemented next year, learners failing Grade 10 this will be demoted back to Grade 9.

The readmission to Grade 9 will be guided by the current Grade 10 repetition policy.

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