The introduction of free pre-primary education in 2012 has resulted in an enormous increase in the number of learners enrolling for school. Enrolment for pre-primary education has increased from 22,000 learners in 2012, to 41,091 currently.
According to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, the number of children in early childhood development programmes (pre-primary) has increased by 60.1 percent.
“Given the correlation between poverty and low literacy rates, this is obviously a commendable achievement for Namibia. Universal pre-primary school is also a good step towards inclusive education since it promotes access to education by all and not by a select few who can afford it,” noted the education ministry’s spokesperson, Absalom Absalom.
“Pre-primary education provides learning and educational activities with a holistic approach to support children’s early cognitive, physical, social and emotional development and introduces young children to organised instruction outside of the family context,” Absalom further expounded.
Free pre-primary education contributes to reducing social inequality, as children from disadvantaged families receive much less cognitive and emotional stimulation, according to the ministry. One of the contributing factors to the increase in enrolment is the school feeding programme, which began in 1997.
“It is a strong incentive among poor children to attend school. In the context of pervasive poverty, it should, therefore, be a key policy intervention with respect to the attainment of access to education for all,” stated Absalom.
To date, the school feeding programme has benefitted 350,000 learners across the country.