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School year kicks into gear

More than 12,000 new learners entered the Namibian educational system this week when they reported for the first timesin their lives to primary schools across the country, to start Grade 1.
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Education in response to questions from the Economist, in excess of 12000 learners are expected to adorn their school uniforms for the first time, a 3% rise from the previous year, all in all due to the introduction of universal education in 2013.
Ms Johanna Absalom, Chief Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Education remarked on the adoption of universal education and noted that, “Following the implementation of Universal Primary Education, the Ministry of Education recognises that there is a high demand for free education in Namibia. In 2013, the enrolment rate in public schools increased. Likely so, high enrolment rate translated to the need for more classrooms, qualified teachers and training for teachers and principals on the usage of the funds by school principals, meaning the handling of procurement at school level.
“I am happy to report that the necessary training to all school principals, school boards and school secretaries was provided and this will continue in 2014.
To address the shortage of classrooms, money has been made available to build additional classrooms for the 2014 intake. Teachers have also been recruited.
Ms Absalom expressed her confidence in the ministry’s readiness for the academic year and remarked that, “The Ministry of Education is ready to address the shortage of classrooms, money has been made available to build additional classrooms for the 2014 intake.  

Additional funds amounting to N$60 million has been availed for the construction of additional classrooms for use during the year 2014.
“In terms of human resource at school level, the ministry has called on retired teachers to return to serve in the areas of need.
 A database of retired teachers has been kept at Head Office and is also shared with the Directors of Education in all Regions. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education is involved in a project to recruit 156 qualified teachers from SADC countries to teach priority subjects such as Mathematics, English and Sciences.
This recruitment drive will fill this gap. The recruitment of teachers will commence in 2014.
“Through the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), the Ministry of Education provides full scholarships to candidates who pursue a teaching career. Teachers without teaching qualifications are also encouraged to pursue formal studies in teaching.
Asked on universal education would be adopted into secondary schools across the country in 2014, Ms Absalom responded by stating that,”The concept of Universal Secondary Education is still being debated and this will form part of the Ministry’s agenda in 2014.
Modalities will still have to be developed and we shall then go into consultations to inform schools what universal secondary education will entail.
The fact of the matter is, come 2015, universal secondary education shall be implemented in all our public secondary schools from grade 8 to 12. 2014 should be considered as a consultation year in this regard.”

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