Zebra makes its mark

By By Shasimana Uugulu
July 2011
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The Managing Director of Zebra Publishing, Nevison Mutasa says the company is committed to seeing positive results within the education sector through the publishing of quality and excellent textbooks.

Established in 2003, Zebra Publishing (Pty) Ltd is a wholly owned Namibian publishing company that aims to be among the country’s top publishers of textbooks.

Since its inception, the company has been involved in sponsoring educational events and recently took up the initiative to be among the sponsors of major prizes in the SpelQuizBee Competition, a national schools spelling and quiz bee competition in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

According to Mutasa, education is an important sector that should not be left to the Government alone and that all stakeholders such as the private sector, parents and non-governmental organisations should come together and invest in the necessary resources to make the learning environment conducive. He says Namibia lacks adequate qualified human capital and this challenge can only be addressed if all stakeholders commit themselves to benefit the Namibian child whose learning environment needs improvement.

“Investing in the education sector should be more than a matter of choice for the private sector as we would like to have a qualified workforce, who are committed to contribute to the growth of our companies, as well as to the economy of the country. We should be more than willing to alleviate challenges facing the education sector such as lack of enough textbooks and information technology facilities in rural areas.”

He says lack of enough textbooks and IT facilities in rural areas is hampering learning and considers it as deplorable that more than two learners are forced to share a single textbook for each subject.

Zebra Publishing this month donated educational material that include readers’ and revision books to the schools affected by the floods in Northern Namibia worth more than N$400 000.

Mutasa says, the content of the donated materials is of quality to the educational needs of learners.

Two South African Provinces of Gauteng and Eastern Cape have asked the company to translate them into Isizulu, Isixhosa and Sepedi.

“This fact just tells you how Namibian educational materials are becoming competitive at regional level and we aim to do the same in Namibia to translate the content into local languages.”

He says the Neo and Peo Readers series is designed mainly for second-language speakers of English and puts emphasis on the fact that learning to read is a gradual, repetitive and cumulative process.

The aim of the Neo and Peo series is to give learners, teachers and parents a resource for reading, enjoyment and building of vocabulary. The materials are therefore designed to equip pupils with reading skills they need, from lower primary stage to upper primary stages and beyond.

Mutasa emphasises that the reason why there is lack of a reading culture among learners and youth in general could be attributed to the fact that reading is not taken seriously when children are in their early development stages.

He says there is need to develop more reading materials for lower primary children in both local languages and English. He argues that it is important for a child to develop good reading skills in their early stages in order for them to become self motivated.

“Indeed, reading is an important life skill. The difference between people’s status in life, what they are and what they do, to a large extent is governed by the number and types of books they have read.”

When it comes to Excellent Books, Mutasa says they were written and designed with the specific aim of assisting the learner to get excellent results in their examinations.

Some of the critical design features that make excellent books he says, are, the fact that a learner can go through the books on their own and get maximum benefits by revising the simplified notes and questions found at the end of each topic.

Towards the end of the book, the Excellent Books contain a minimum of two full Practice Exams which allow learners to practice a ‘real life’ examination situation without the necessary stresses of examination.

Mutasa says very often children fail examinations, not because they do not know, but because they are unfamiliar with the style, format or mode of the examination.
“Practice Exams gives learners this opportunity to practice. Practice makes perfect. Learning is a skill that is very much similar to sport. You get better with practice.”

He argues that the Excellent Books have a100% syllabus coverage – “so when a learner uses it, they will have covered the relevant content”.

Among the secondary level Excellent Books published by Zebra Publishing are Accounting (Excellent), Computer Studies (Discovering), Agriculture (Excellent) and Biology (Excellent).

In collaboration with the Business and Educational Development Consultancy led by Touchmore Chikarango, Mutasa says Zebra Publishing seeks to improve the educational achievement of learners in poorly performing schools as well as empower teachers by developing quality educational materials.

Chikarango is among the prominent and proficient authors in the fields of Life Sciences and Design and Technology involved in writing and revising the content of Excellent Books materials.

Mutasa concludes by urging other players within the private sector to invest in the education sector and contribute to the fulfillment of the Ministry of Education’s target of 2013 that would like to see an end of sharing books among learners. PF