Our education is in reverse
By Elma Dienda MP
PDM Spokesperson on Education
Looking at the less-than-stellar results achieved by grade 10 and 12 (ordinary level) learners in our schools in 2018 it must surely be clear that this government is failing our young people. Education is truly in reverse when you consider that for the past 28 years thousands of grade 10 learners have failed to progress to the next level and have swelled the ranks of the unemployed. The same may be said of the grade 12s who consistently year after year fail to make the grade.
Repeating costs the taxpayer money!
One of the things which struck me very forcibly was the fact that Minister Hanse-Himarwa was quite happy to admit that there were actually more learners in private institutions and NAMCOL than there were in full-time government schools.
This clearly shows that parents have finally realized that the education offered in government schools is of a lower quality than elsewhere.
The fact that such a poor pass rate has consistently been achieved in both grade 10 and 12 ordinary level since Independence points to another issue: what plans have this government put in place, mentored and monitored over the past 28 years to improve learners’ inability to master English? It is obvious that to be able to study effectively and meaningfully at any level requires the proper mastery of the language in which those studies take place but the level of English in Namibia has also been in reverse for the past 28 years with no light at the end of the tunnel.
When will this government put its arrogant belief aside that it alone knows what is good for our young people and their education? The PDM has said on numerous occasions that education is not a matter for scoring political points – it is a matter of national importance because it deals with the futures of our young people. A government that truly cares for the youth of Namibia would long since have tapped into the huge amount of knowledge available in this country but not of necessity inside the ruling party.
I visited NAMCOL last week to see for myself how many of the 21 000 learners who had failed grade 10 in 2018 were availing themselves of the minister’s magnanimous offer that they could return to full time schooling if they were younger than 17and how many had decided to rather take their chances with NAMCOL. The decision that has to be made by these youngsters is the following: return to full time school but return to grade 9 to catch up with the new syllabi or register with NAMCOL and either take your chances with the new grade 10 syllabi without having done the groundwork in grade 9 – OR perhaps NAMCOL is offering the old grade 10 syllabi parallel to the new grade 10 syllabi for those who failed grade 10 last year?
I have not seen this explained anywhere thus far but it would be interesting to know the financial implications of this for our already cash-strapped government! And then there is the issue of how successful learners will be if they can register for the new grade 10 syllabi without having passed the new grade 9 syllabi in the light of the admission by various school principals that learners are finding the new syllabi content challenging. The results for 2019 will make this clear.
As far as the new Curriculum and access to tertiary education are concerned it is worth noting that complete chaos continues to reign at schools throughout the country with administrators being unable to work out the new timetable to accommodate the various subject choices, no teaching taking place because of a lack of textbooks and teachers even admitting illegally photocopying the existing textbooks to give to the learners. Teachers themselves are very sceptical about the readiness of learners to take on tertiary education or the world of work at the end of grade 11 and most parents are only now starting to understand the ramifications and implications for their children’s futures contained in the new curriculum.
More will certainly be expected from our secondary school teachers when implementing these new syllabi as we have seen since they were introduced in 2017.
No universities outside Namibia will cater for these learners who only have Grade 11. Only those who qualify according to certain norms will be allowed to continue with Grade 12 and also only at certain schools. There is talk of specialized schools for the different fields e.g. certain schools will offer science subjects on higher level for grade 12, others commercial subjects etc.
The PDM believes that it is time for this government to admit that is has made a mess of education since 1990 and continues to gamble with the futures of our young people with this constant messing around with the education system. It is time to realize that the ruling party does not have the necessary expertise to come up with a sensible and practicable education system that will optimize young people’s interests and talents. Use should be made of ALL the expertise available in Namibia across political boundaries to save this rapidly sinking ship once and for all.