The Namibian education sector nosedived into a crisis in the 2014/2015 financial year, producing one of the worst grade 12 results which saw only 30 percent of the students passing.
In real terms, out of the about 42 000 pupils that took the exams, only about 6000 qualified for tertiary education; arousing criticism for both the government and schools for not investing enough time and energies into transforming the vital sector which is expected to steer the country to a knowledge-based economy by the year 2030.
The education sector has faced serious challenges with the shortage of teachers. However, it was not all doom and gloom as 2015 saw the introduction of universal free education at secondary schools and the abolishment of registration fees at The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), which, in line with a cabinet resolution completed its transformation from the Polytechnic of Namibia to a fully-fledged university. The abolishment of registration fees follows a student protest at the University, which also led to a resolution that points to the clearing of student debts amounting to a reported N$90 million at the institution.
The University of Namibia (UNAM) has also made major strides in improving their operations and to this end, they have introduced new courses for 2016. These are; Bachelor of Arts in English (Honours), Bachelor of Science in Public Health (Honours), Bachelor of Arts in English (Honours) and Master of Pharmacy (Clinical Pharmacy).
The International University of Management has also grown its enrolment in the past few years while The Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) also managed to move from being a college for improving grade 12 results to a well-established college which provides courses like plumbing, welding and construction like any other Vocational Training Center.
Although hearing about tertiary education leaves many parents scratching their heads on how they’re going to pay for their children’s tertiary education, the government has intervened by introducing bursaries to students who pass with flying colors in addition to availing the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NASFAF).
The Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) is a loan-scheme which was designed to replace the Public Service bursary scheme; the purpose of which was to train people to work solely in the civil sector.
Education in Namibia has been considered as the key to the attainment of national goals along with it being a major contributor to the Namibian economy. It has been one of the respected sectors and considered as a number one priority as evidenced by the introduction of free primary and secondary education since many parents still struggle to afford to send their children to school.
Although the government has done enough to make sure that no Namibian citizen feels left out with regards to access to education, there is still a lot that has to be done to accommodate every child in terms of capacity, which will require more schools to be constructed and more teachers to be employed. In this regard, Research shows that government availed N$30 million for the 2016/17 financial year for the implementation of free secondary education from January to March.
To highlight its commitment to capacity building, the government also managed to construct a school in the Omaheke region called Talismanus Primary School. The school is located in the Otjombinde Constituency.
The school was constructed after the Ministry of Education received a grant of N$ 12 million from the People’s Republic of China, through the China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF), as part of the Hope Project Going into Africa.
The school is equipped with 12 general classrooms, one music classroom, one library, one teacher’s office, one principal office with corresponding bathrooms and closets, and students’ desks and chairs for classrooms. Executive type desks and chairs have also been used to furnish the offices. The main outdoor works mainly include one basketball court, one straight running track, roads and fences with a total area of about 1100 square meters.
The Minister of Education also received the biggest grant of N$120 million in 2014 from the People’s Republic of China to construct a school (Otjomuise Vision School) in the Khomasdal Constituency and the building has since been completed and will be inaugurated sometime this year.
The state-of-the-art vision school will cater to pupils from grades 8-12 and has the capacity to accommodate 800 learners.
The government has done a laudable job in creating opportunities in the education sector. Its shortcomings however, lie in its inability to build more vocational education centres and institutions for people who fail to attain the minimum 25 points necessary for them to gain acceptance at the country’s universities. This situation often forces students to register at unaccredited colleges and institutions owing to the lack of a credible alternative.