Minister distressed over poor funding

The implementation of the Universal Free Primary Education has lifted the financial burden of access to education to many, while in the meantime it has put the Education Ministry in financial difficulties.
Free primary education has brought an average annual increase of learner enrolment up to 3% in most regions. Additionally to this, access to education is ensured through the provision of a mid-morning meal to more than 310 000 beneficiaries through the Namibia School Feeding Programme that amounts to more than N$90 000 000 annually, the Minister of Education Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said in the National Assembly.
Putting her budget motivation on table, Hanse-Himarwa said her ministry remains one of the most under-funded ministry’s when it comes to funding made to capital projects. The overall budget allocation estimate for Education, Arts and Culture for the MTEF period 2016/17 to 2018/19 is N$40,789,112,000.
“I should state further that for both our school feeding and hostel catering needs, amounts of N$495 million and N$87 million for 2015/16 was provided for, while amounts of N$510million and N$104 million for 2016/17 financial year is provided for,respectively.
The Education Management Information System (EMIS) Report of 2015 captures the fact that the budget will affect the present and future of more than 690,618 learners of which 32,793 are in Pre-Primary; 454,027 are in Primary; 203,798 are in Secondary, the minister said.
The government through the education ministry employs more than 27,000 teachers who are teaching at 1,779 government and government-aided Schools. Overall, the Ministry of Education, currently employs 37,627 teaching and non-teaching staff out of the staff establishment of 39,000 thus, making it one of the biggest if not the biggest employer ministries of the government.
“The above facts is the reason why the ministry has over the past years battled with insufficient funds to meet particularly the implementation of its capital projects in terms of physical facilities for education. While 2015/16 financial year indicates an appropriation of 11.4 billion to the education Ministry, only 5% of this budget was apportioned to capital projects, while the bulk thereof (95%) was allocated to operational activities, with staff remuneration and benefits taking about 72% of the budget,” Hanse-Himarwa said.
Infrastructure provision continues to take a worrisome trend with close to 87% of infrastructure in very bad state of repair, this is coupled with the prevailing shortage of classrooms across the regions. Close to 3,000 classrooms are needed in the 2016/17 financial year while more than 18,000 classrooms are made from temporary or traditional materials.
“Currently, the Ministry of Education is executing its mandate of educating the nation, especially the young ones in non-conventional classrooms that amounts to 13%. This adversely affects the quality of teaching and learning of close to 50,000 learners,” she said.
A total number of 1,128,558 textbooks to the value of N$82,266,853 for both primary and secondary levels were obtained. The delivery of textbooks the 11 regions indicate close to a 100% school coverage while some challenges are being experienced in the regions of Kavango West (40% delivery), Kavango East (30% delivery) and Omusati (70% delivery).

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