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Brief Description of the Review Process in Namibia

Namibia did not appoint a national task force or technical committee. Since all the relevant information was readily available in documents, notably the annual reports of the Ministry and the annual statistical reports, no extensive information-gathering exercise was needed. The Director of Planning and Development was appointed National EFA Coordinator.

A staff member of one of the regional education offices attended the two Harare workshops and prepared a first draft of much of part I of the narrative report. A staff member of the EMIS Division of the Directorate of Planning and Development attended the two Harare workshops, prepared the statistical indicators, and drafted the relevant section of part II of the narrative report, with the assistance of a colleague from the same division. The National EFA Coordinator was responsible for drafting sections 4, 5, and 6 of part I, sections 8 to 11 of part II, and part III.

Three review meetings were held to consider the draft documents in progress. These were attended by head office staff, who offered comments on the drafts. Virtually all of these comments have been accommodated.

Wider consultation on the implementation of EFA was not deemed necessary for planning the further development of basic education, since this and other relevant issues were addressed during the course of 1999 by a Presidential Commission on Education, Culture and Training, and the Ministry of Basic Education and Culture had itself been developing its strategic plan for the period 2000 to 2005.

Participation in the proposed MLA exercise was dismissed as not feasible in the time available from the point at which it was first mooted.

Education for All: The Year 2000 Assessment Republic of Namibia

Part I: Descriptive Sections


Namibia covers an area of approximately 825,000 square kilometres. It is bounded by two major deserts, the Namib, lying along the whole of the west coast, and the Kalahari, on the southern and central eastern border with Botswana. The only perennial rivers are to be found on the country’s borders: the Orange River on the southern border with South Africa, and the Kunene, Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi Rivers on the northern borders with Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The 1991 population census recorded Namibia’s population at 1.4 million with growth projected at over 3% a year. The total Namibian population in 1998 was estimated to be 1.75 million and the population growth rate was about 3%.

The country obtained its independence on 21 March 1990. At independence, the education system in Namibia was best characterized by five key features:

Behind these characteristics was an extremely unequal financial resource allocation based on the eleven ethnic authority systems called second tier authorities, as may be seen in Table 1.

Table 1: Resource allocation to Second Tier Authorities, 1989/90


Learners as a % of the national total

% financial resources of total

Average allocation per learner, N$

Coefficient of learner allocation




1 303





1 696










1 496





1 868










5 163





2 863





1 734












National Education





Source: NDP I, volume 1, page 330

Notes: 1. The required information was not available for Rehoboth.

2. The budget of the Department of National Education included schools not covered under second tier authorities. It also included the Academy, Museums, National Theatre, etc., and a large contingent of advisory teachers who were available to other administrations; thus no unit cost could be calculated.

3. Figures include the cost of hostel accommodation.

Soon after independence the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport was established by amalgamating the eleven second tier educational and cultural services into one unified national structure. A unified system of educational administration, management and control with its head office in Windhoek was established. Six regional education offices, namely Katima Mulilo, Keetmanshoop, Khorixas, Ondangwa, Rundu, and Windhoek were also established. After the general and presidential elections of 1994 the Ondangwa Education Region was split in two, namely Ondangwa East and Ondangwa West, bringing the total number of regional education offices to seven. A separate Ministry of Youth and Sport was created in 1991. In 1995 the Ministry of Education and Culture was split into two Ministries: the Ministry of Basic Education and Culture (MBEC) and the Ministry of Higher Education, Vocational Training, Science and Technology. (MHEVTST).

The structure of the MBEC provided for two departments, the Department of Formal Education, and the Department of Culture and Life-long Learning, three head office directorates reporting directly to the Permanent Secretary, and seven regional education offices, also reporting directly to the Permanent Secretary.

The four directorates forming part of the Department of Formal Education were Educational Programme Implementation, Inspectorate and Advisory Services, Special Education Programmes, and National Examinations and Assessment. The three which constituted the Department of Culture and Lifelong Learning were Adult Basic Education, Arts and Culture, and Library and Archive Services.

The three separate head office directorates were the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), the Directorate of Planning and Development, and the Directorate of General Services.

The seven regional education directorates were Katima Mulilo, Keetmanshoop, Khorixas, Ondangwa East, Ondangwa West, Rundu, and Windhoek.

The Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) was first established as a directorate in the MBEC in 1994 to provide learning opportunities for adults and out-of-school youth. As of 1 April 1998, NAMCOL began to operate as a parastatal in terms of the NAMCOL Act (Act No. 1 of 1997). NAMCOL provided study opportunities for those learners who weare unable or did not wish to attend formal schools.

The formal education system consisted of a seven-year primary structure followed by a three-year junior secondary and a two-year senior secondary phase. There were also special education institutions for learners with disabilities. Adult and continuing education complemented formal education and was the responsibility of the MBEC in cooperation with NGOs and other cooperating partners.

A number of policy directives were issued in the period immediately following independence. These include:

Reform of the education system included structural reform, the development of a new broad curriculum and the reform of teacher education in the colleges, an education language policy, the development of the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) and the development of an Educational Management Information System (EMIS). Policy guidelines were also issued on the National Literacy Programme for Namibia (NLPN).

2 EFA Goals and Targets

Namibia obtained its independence on 21 March 1990, the same year and month in which the World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA) was held in Jomtien, Thailand. The goals and principles embodied in the World Declaration on Education for All and its Framework for Action were already key components of the Government of Namibia’s policy on education.

Article 20 of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, which predated the Jomtien Conference, reads:

All persons shall have the right to education. Primary education shall be compulsory and the State shall provide reasonable facilities to render effective this right for every resident within Namibia, by establishing and maintaining State schools at which primary education will be provided free of charge. Children shall not be allowed to leave school until they have completed their primary education or have attained the age of sixteen (16) years, whichever is the sooner ...

The First National Development Plan was developed for the period 1995/1996 to 1999/2000. The plan’s objectives for education in Namibia were:

These had been summed up in Toward education for all as "access, equity, quality, and democracy", with a reference under "quality" to education being "a life-long activity". Differently stated, they had also all been present or implied in The national integrated education system for emergent Namibia.

Namibia was thus able to identify fully with the Jomtien goal of education for all, because it fitted perfectly with the broad goals which had already been set for the reform of education in the newly independent country. No special mechanism was required to address the goal of education for all, since the achievement of this goal was already the core around which the ministry’s activities were being structured.

2.1 Early Childhood Care and Development

The National Early Childhood Development (ECD) Policy was adopted by Cabinet in February 1996 and addressed a policy framework, the establishment of early childhood programmes in relation to national development, and defined the respective roles of the government, NGOs and parents and communities in the provision of support for early childhood development.

The government recognized the importance of early childhood development and believed that this level of education could best be addressed within communities with the assistance of the Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing (MRLGH). Early childhood education should be a central part of community development. The principal focus of the Ministry of Basic Education and Culture (MBEC) in this regard would be to prepare early childhood educators and to assist in developing appropriate curricula, pedagogy, and learning materials for use by individuals and groups throughout the country.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services was responsible for health inputs into the ECD programmes. The prevention and detection, at an early stage, of issues hindering education was important.

2.2 Access to and Completion of Primary Education

As noted above, the right to free primary education for all for seven years was guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic. Ideally every Namibian was to have at least ten years of Basic Education. There had been no move by the end of the decade to make primary schooling compulsory, since government had not yet been able to provide schools within reach of all children of school-going age or alternatively to provide hostel accommodation near existing schools.

Under NDP I the following targets were set:

Initially, targets for gender equity were not set as enrollment patterns did not reveal serious differences in the primary grades, with girls representing 50.5% of the national primary enrollment in 1992. In 1998 the national average percentage for girls was 50.1%, with regional variations from 48.9% to 51.9%.

Educationally Marginalized Children (EMC)

The educationally marginalized children were a diverse group, and their educational needs differed from community to community. This group comprised children of farm workers, San children, Ovahimba children, street children, and children in squatter areas. Factors that had an influence on the education of these children were poverty, malnutrition, attitudes shown by non-marginalized groups, and the high illiteracy rate among the parents of these children.

Children with Disabilities

The Directorate of Special Education Programmes had four broad long-term goals, namely:

A National Policy on Disability was adopted in 1997 in which it was stressed that schools must equip themselves to address the learning needs of children with disabilities.

2.3 Improvement in Learning Achievement

A number of policies and initiatives were to be put in place to improve the quality of the Namibian education system.

Teaching was to become learner centred rather than teacher oriented. At independence teacher education was characterized as "uncoordinated, fragmented, ill-organized, and non-uniform". A new curriculum was to be designed for the training of teachers A number of in-service teacher programmes aimed at upgrading the competence of qualified as well as unqualified and under-qualified serving teachers were also to be introduced.

Primary and secondary curricula were revised to make them relevant to the modern Namibian and African context, rather than to the colonial past. Specific attention was to be given to cross-curricular teaching of health, evironmental issues, population studies, and gender issues. The examination and assessment system was to be changed to focus on success rather than on failure.

2.4 Reduction of the Adult Illiteracy Rate

In 1991 75.77% of the adult (age 15+) population was literate. NDP I set the target of 80% adult literacy by the year 2000.

Achievement of the target would require the enrolment of 25,000 annually in stage one of the adult national literacy programme. After a 1994 mini-survey it was estimated that a total of approximately 71,000 people aged 15 to 64 would have to become literate in order to reach the target.

2.5 Expansion of Basic Education and Training in other Essential Skills

Basic learning needs comprise both essential learning tools (such as literacy, oral expression, numeracy and problem solving) and the basic learning content (such as the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes) required by human beings to survive, to develop their full capacities, to live and work with dignity, to participate fully in development, to improve the quality of their lives, to make informed decisions, and to continue learning.

It was "one of the key strategies of NDP I to develop positive attitudes towards productive activities amonst the unemployed." However, no specific targets were set in this area.

2.6 Increased Acquisition by Individuals and Families of the Knowledge, Skills and Values required for Better Living

At independence, Namibia inherited a cultural system that was fragmented and divided along racial and ethnic lines. It was a system that was committed to a policy of divide and rule and did not regard culture as a unifying and building force.

The ministry was responsible for promoting and developing Namibian material and spiritual culture, and enhancing participation in cultural activities through the media of dance, music, drama, literature, oral tradition, arts, crafts and popular culture. The main goals included promoting Namibian identity through cultural expression, the preservation and presentation of the national cultural treasures and styles of expression, and the promotion of learning and information use through library services and the National Archives.

3 EFA Strategy and Plan of Action

3.1 Early Childhood Care and Development

The strategy was to improve the delivery of services through strengthening the capacity of government and NGO personnel to enable them to develop and support ECD activities in target communities. This included empowering parents and caregivers to support and manage their own community-based ECD activities.

A National Policy on early childhood development was developed and launched in 1996. A national structure for government and NGOs was devised. Guidelines were established for ECD centres and programmes. Preparations were made for establishing an ECD trust fund. Within the Ministry of Basic Education and Culture an EDC coordinator was to be appointed.

Progress was to be monitored by the Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing.

3.2 Access to and Completion of Primary Education

The First National Development Plan proposed a number of strategies to achieve the objectives of improved and equitable access to education, as follows:

Not all of these strategies were implemented, and those which were implemented had already been in practice prior to the drafting of the development plan. The provision of new physical facilities did not keep pace with demand. No deliberate effort was been made to motivate communities to contribute to physical facilities and maintenance, although many communities did so voluntarily. In some areas it was known that government support for lower primary education would be likely to be forthcoming if the community erected a temporary classroom and perhaps even recruited and remunerated a temporary teacher. It might, however, take a couple of years before the new school could be accommodated within the ministry’s budget.

There was some extension to the platoon (or double session) system, although this was regarded as a last resort. In 1995 4.5% of all learners were attending classes in the afternoon, compared with 5.6% in 1998. Multigrade teaching was in use in many of the small schools, but reluctance was shown to combine more than two grade levels in the same class, even when numbers were very small. Until 1998 little was done about the provision of teacher housing, the provision of classrooms having been regarded as a higher priority.

Little mobilisation of out-of-school school-age children was needed, since parents and children generally attached importance to school attendance. There was noticeable absenteeism at schools attended by children from poor families when the school feeding scheme at these schools had had to be temporarily suspended. Where boarding facilities were available, it was possible for indigent children to be completely exempted from paying hostel fees, but the government policy was to build schools within walking distance of the children’s homes rather than to provide hostels for primary learners.

Payment of school fund contributions was not compulsory when parents genuinely could not afford it, and school uniforms were not compulsory, although at some schools there was strong pressure on learners to conform.

A flexible school calendar was not introduced, nor was educational broadcasting used as a strategy for reaching children who were unable to attend school.

In 1996 the ministry established an Inter-Sectoral Task Force (ITF) for marginalized children with the following terms of reference:

The ministry’s head office, and not the regional offices, was responsible for the management and organization of all special schools, which were seen as national schools. Despite the building of two new schools and extension of another, there were insufficient places to match demand. A number of schools which had special classes for children with learning difficulties at the time of independence, retained those classes, but it was not possible to extend the system. The intention was to integrate all learners with impairments or learning difficulties as fully as possible into the mainstream. There were special schools catering for visually and hearing impaired learners and those with learning difficulties.

The monitoring of access was undertaken by regional education offices, by some of the head office directorates, and via the annual education census. Where donors supported specific initiatives, these were generally more carefully monitored, and progress discussed during annual review meetings with the donors.

3.3 Improvement in Learning Achievement.

Strategies recommended in the National Development Plan were:

The pre-service training of teachers was to be addressed through a revised teacher education curriculum and the upgrading of the competence of staff at the colleges of education. In 1992 a five-year plan for the in-service training of teachers was drawn up, and during the course of 1998 and the early part of 1999 proposals for a ten-year educator development and support programme were drafted.

As the new school curriculum was developed, sufficient textbooks were purchased by the ministry for each learner to have a textbook. Financial provision was insufficient to allow for the subsequent replacement of lost and damaged books, particularly at those schools where control over the textbooks was slack.

The provision of libraries and laboratories was generally a lower priority than the provision of classrooms. Financial provision for the purchase of library books tended to be inadequate.

No significant overall strategies were developed during the decade for the more effective functioning of the inspectorate and advisory services.

The Education Management Information System was not expanded to capture a wider range of teacher information since a dedicated computerised personnel management system was to be developed.

The monitoring of specific aspects was undertaken from time to time by regional education offices and head office directorates.

3.4 Reduction of the Adult Illiteracy Rate

The strategies to be employed were:

A National Literacy Committee with representatives from several ministries, non-governmental organizations and members of Parliament was established in order to ensure wide national participation.

The head office directorate responsible for the National Literacy Programme for Namibia was to monitor implementation.

3.5 Expansion of Basic Education and Training in other Essential Skills

At school level the curriculum was designed to incorporate the development of moral values, including respect for the sanctity of life and for human dignity, and the strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights. NGOs did similar work in the wider community.

The ministry followed up its literacy programme with post-literacy and work skills programmes which catered for adults, out-of-school youth and early leavers from the formal school system.

The Ministry of Youth and Sport erected multi-purpose youth centres around the country where useful information was provided in health corners.

EHAFO, an organization catering for adults with disabilities, offered courses in book binding, metalwork, domestic work, micro-business and adult literacy.

3.6 Increased Acquisition by Individuals and Families of the Knowledge, Skills and Values required for Better Living

Opportunities for acquiring relevant knowledge and values were offered informally by the public libraries, the State Museum, the National Theatre of Namibia, the National Art Gallery of Namibia, and similar institutions at a local level.

The national radio broadcast programmes on health, agriculture and English in all the different languages. There were also educational television programmes five days a week. The ministry and NAMCOL regularly used the media for educational announcements.

4. EFA Decision-making and Management

As already indicated, commitment to education for all was an integral part of the policy of government, and as such no separate unit was created either for its implementation or monitoring.

4.1 Early Childhood Care and Development

The Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing (MRLGH) was allocated the responsibility for overseeing the development and implementation of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme country wide. A directorate within that ministry coordinated and monitored ECD activities carried out by government agencies, NGOs and communities. Structures were set up to facilitate the implementation of the programme at national, regional and constituency levels, including committees at all levels representing the communities whose children were the beneficiaries of the entire programme.

At national level guidelines and standards were set, a register of ECD centres was maintained, training programmes were designed and implemented, and the programme was monitored.

The Ministry of Basic Education and Culture (MBEC) was responsible for the development of a curriculum which would articulate with the first year of primary school, for the development of training materials, and for the training of regional trainers.

At regional level the chief community liaison officer was jointly responsible to the MRLGH and the Regional Governor. Stakeholders were sensitized to the importance of the programme, ECD centres were registered, technical and financial assistance was provided to communities, training took place, data was gathered and analyzed, monitoring and evaluation took place, and material and financial support was mobilized.

Within each constituency community liaison officers and community activators disseminated information, educated parents, and supported community efforts with technical advice and training.

4.2 Access to and Completion of Primary Education

Within the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, the Ministry of Basic Education and Culture (MBEC) devised policy and monitored implementation. Curriculum development, although centralized, drew on regional and institutional expertise through a network of curriculum panels and committees. Major policy decisions, such as that on the medium of instruction, were tested in national symposia.

Seven regional education offices were largely responsible for planning and implementation of access strategies within their geographical areas. Discussions under way at the close of the decade might result in the seven offices being increased in number to thirteen, and integrated with the administrations of the thirteen political regions. At regional level recommendations were made on the sites for new schools, and on the expansion of existing institutions. Materials and equipment were ordered and teachers appointed. When schools were full, parents were assisted in finding places for their children.

The majority of private schools were run by church groups, were heavily subsidized by government, and closely followed the national curriculum. A small number of schools, some subsidized and others not, deviated to some extent from the government curriculum which they were, nevertheless, required by conditions of registration to incorporate as a minimum requirement. Private schools were centrally registered, on the recommendation of the regional office.

Provision for children with disabilities might have been by way of the normal school within the regional structure, or via one of a small number of schools catering for specific disabilities, which were managed from the central office and not from the regions.

Strategies directed at securing improved access for identified marginalized groups might have been initiated by head office, by a regional office, or by a donor agency or NGO in close cooperation with the head or regional office.

4.3 Improvement in learning achievement.

Learning achievement was determined largely by what happened in the classroom, a range of factors including the relevance of the curriculum, teacher competence, availability of equipment and materials, physical facilities, parental support, and the school’s value system, all playing a role. Decisions on matters such as staffing norms and approved textbooks were taken centrally, in consultation with regional offices. Policy decisions on a more equitable distribution of suitably qualified teachers across the regions had by the end of the decade made little difference in view of the difficulties pertaining to teacher mobility, discussed below. Provision of physical facilities was determined on the basis of a formula which favoured those regions which had the largest backlog of conventional classrooms and specialist facilities. Regional offices decided on the sites which were to benefit from government and donor funding each year. Prior to 1998 the assessment of needs had been on an educational regional basis; from 1998 this was changed to a political regional basis in an effort to address inequities more aggressively.

After independence in 1990 the school curriculum was redesigned. It was structured around learning competencies in the various subjects, on learner-centred methodology, on continuous assessment particularly in the lower grades, and on semi-automatic promotion. No national examination was conducted before the end of grade 10, although by 1999 preparations were advanced for the introduction of a national semi-external examination at the end of the primary phase (grade 7).

Efforts to improve teacher competence included encouragement to underqualified teachers to improve their formal qualifications, the provision of support by a cadre of inspectors and advisory teachers, and the running of short in-service training courses. The ministry developed a three-year post grade 12 qualification for teachers in basic education, which curriculum was taught in the country’s four colleges of education, and also offered through a combination of distance and face-to-face techniques to practising teachers. With the phasing in of new curricula numerous in-service training courses were offered, either at national or regional level, or via strategies of cascading, to equip teachers to implement the new curricula effectively.

Schools were encouraged to involve parents in the school’s activities, in learner support, and in playing a role, through the school board, in the management of the school. This was expected also to impact on the school’s value system.

Since the ministry’s contribution towards materials and supplies was inadequate, virtually all schools expected parents to contribute either by purchasing materials for their children or by contributing to the school development fund, from which materials and equipment were purchased. Children might not, however, be refused admission to a school on the grounds of the inability of their parents to make the school fund contribution.

4.4 Reduction of the Adult Illiteracy Rate

Policy was determined within the head office of the ministry, which was also responsible for curriculum development, the preparation of teaching and training materials, for providing training, and for monitoring the National Literacy Programme for Namibia (NLPN).

Regional literacy officers in the education regions encouraged the establishment of new literacy groups, provided materials, training and support to literacy promoters, and monitored the implementation of the programme.

In response to the emerging pattern of relatively low male enrolment in the programme, head office reviewed materials, training techniques, and the criteria for the selection of literacy promoters in an effort to increase male participation.

The ministry developed an adult upper primary curriculum and the materials for its implementation to provide the newly literate with the opportunity to consolidate and further develop their newly acquired competence. Successful completion of this course gave adults the opportunity to participate in a project aimed at helping them to establish their own businesses. The community learning development centres (COSDECs) assisted the newly literate and out of school youth to maintain their literacy skills. Subsequent admission to the distance or face-to-face junior secondary programme offered by the Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) was also a possibility.

4.5 Expansion of Basic Education and Training in other Essential Skills

Outside of the provision of literacy and upper primary training by the ministry and junior secondary training by NAMCOL, there was no clear focus of responsibility for providing training in life skills. Several ministries, such as the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Ministry of Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, the Ministry of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, ran programmes in this area, sometimes on a national scale, sometimes on a more restricted scale, and often in cooperation with NGOs or external funding agencies. Many programmes were initiated and managed by NGOs and churches.

Apart from monitoring the response to very specific information and action campaigns (such as, for example, an immunisation campaign monitored by the Ministry of Health and Social Services), there was no consistent monitoring at national level of the impact of these programmes.

4.6 Increased Acquisition by Individuals and Families of the Knowledge, Skills and Values required for Better Living

This area overlaps to some extent with the previous one. The media also played a role in raising awareness through correspondence pages and chat shows, through comment and magazine programmes, and through series of informative or training articles on, for example, business management or developing entrepreneurial skills. There was a National Youth Council with elected membership which coordinated youth activities. Ministries, NGOs and the media organized competitions, debates and conferences to increase awareness and knowledge of specific issues.

5 Cooperation in Education for All

5.1 Early Childhood Care and Development

Cooperating with the Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing in their endeavours to implement and extend early childhood development programmes were church, community and non-governmental agencies. Activities were coordinated by a national task force comprising representatives of seven ministries and also NGOs.

5.2 Access to and Completion of Primary Education

The Ministry of Basic Education and Culture was the main provider in this area, with 959 primary schools, 343 combined schools (providing a combination of primary and secondary grades) and 109 secondary schools. 50 primary schools, 17 combined schools, and 11 secondary schools were privately owned. Most of these received a government subsidy.

The private schools were owned by churches, farmers, mines, cultural organizations, or communities.

At least seven foreign countries, and multinational and international organizations, assisted with the provision of physical facilities for basic education, in some instances extending access, in others enhancing the quality of education. Facilities included classrooms, administration blocks, libraries, laboratories and other specialist teaching rooms, latrines, and in a few instances complete schools to accommodate upwards of 500 learners. In many instances communities themselves took the initiative in providing either temporary or permanent classrooms.

Access was promoted by the availability of school hostels, particularly important for children from small isolated communities, such as farm workers on extensive commercial cattle farms. 14,260 primary learners were in government hostels and 9,046 in private hostels in 1998. A system of informal hostels, run by the communities in rudimentary facilities, was growing towards the end of the decade. A school feeding programme, initiated jointly by an international agency and the ministry, was taken over and from 1996 was fully funded by the ministry.

A project for San children was initiated by a local NGO in receipt of foreign funding. Apart from establishing a cluster of five schools, there was development of an orthography and of learning materials, and training of teachers. This project had further assistance in teacher support from a non-national volunteer teacher. In 1998 the project was partly taken over by the ministry, and in the same year was incorporated into a donor-funded project to develop and provide teaching materials in the vernacular.

Migrant communities in the north-western part of the country were targeted by a project proposed by a donor. Mobile schools with structures that were easily dismantled were provided, so that they could move with the community. The project was initially fully funded by the donor, with government funding being gradually phased in. Under the supervision of one head teacher, the project started with six units in 1998, in 1999 served twelve communities, and was likely to be further extended.

The financial contribution of parents to the schooling of their children included the provision of school uniform (where required by the school), transport to and from school, the provision of stationery and other materials in varying degrees, and payments to the school development fund. A recent set of data, while not representing a statistically valid sample for the country, showed a range from N$8 to N$1,620 per annum in school development fund levels for grade 7 learners in government schools, the corresponding range in private schools being from N$30 to N$15,100.

5.3 Improvement in Learning Achievement

The ministry was greatly assisted by donors in the broad areas of materials development and provision and educator development and support. As the school curriculum was revised, appropriate textbooks were developed, mainly in the private sector, and purchased by the ministry in sufficient quantities for every learner to have a book. For some subjects materials were developed and supplied with foreign assistance, as detailed below.

One project at lower primary level employing a specific approach to the teaching of literacy in the mother tongue with a subsequent switch to English was successfully implemented in eight languages, with implementation in a ninth language still in an early stage. Another project, targeting a different group of schools, assisted the ministry to develop structured teaching materials, for use by under-qualified teachers in transition to a more creative and learner-centred approach. The teachers using the materials were supported, both in their teaching efforts and in their studies towards an elementary formal teaching qualification, by volunteer teachers, each serving a cluster of schools.

At upper primary level materials for the teaching of life science were developed, produced and distributed by a donor-funded agency. The same agency developed and supplied life science materials for the junior secondary curriculum.

Assisted with foreign funding the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia developed cross-curricular environmental materials which were fed into the system via the colleges of education. Other cross-curricular efforts, in the areas of population education and sex education, included the development of materials to raise awareness of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS.

Teacher pre-service training benefited from donor assistance in the development of a new training curriculum, the Basic Education Teachers’ Diploma (BETD), intended to support the teaching of the post-independence basic school curriculum. Through this project, which was extended to the in-service training of under-qualified serving teachers, the effective teaching of the new basic education curriculum, particularly at the primary level, was greatly enhanced. The 3-year post grade 12 BETD was introduced at all four teacher education colleges in 1993. As an interim arrangement the Instructional Skills Certificate (ISC) was developed as a bridging qualification for serving teachers who did not meet the admission requirement for the BETD. Training towards this qualification was provided in targeted areas with donor assistance.

The ministry itself took responsibility for most of the in-service training that was done for class and subject teachers. Extensive support to the teaching of English at upper primary and junior secondary level was provided by a donor-funded agency, and a project which ran from 1991 to 1997 supported the teaching of mathematics and physical science at junior secondary level.

A small number of staff members at head and regional offices was given the opportunity to improve their formal qualifications to a master’s or doctoral level. The intention was that they should indirectly have a positive effect on the quality of education at the classroom level through improved curriculum development, planning, training of teachers, or support to practising teachers. Three donors were engaged in this type of assistance to the ministry.

Materials for the training of inspectors of education, school managers and school boards, were developed in cooperation either with external consultants or with nationals of other SADC countries, the cost of training workshops was largely being borne by donors. In one of the training programmes, run by a local NGO with external funding, participants were charged a modest fee to secure stronger commitment. Three pilot projects on the training of school board members shared lessons learnt as they prepared to expand their coverage.

A donor-funded project attempted to enhance the quality of teaching through improved support mechanisms, including the provision of new circuit offices, organizing the schools in clusters, and providing management training to the staff of the regional office, including the inspectors. The new circuit offices brought the inspectors closer to the schools they served, making more frequent contact possible. By organizing the schools in clusters mutual support was encouraged and in-service training efforts became more manageable. In 1999 the project was extended to three other regions.

Various donors, both local and international, assisted the ministry with the provision of library books to schools. At the end of the decade the target was set of providing each school with at least one library book per learner.

The ministry benefited from equipment, technical assistance, and training of staff members in the area of special education.

5.4 Reduction of the Adult Illiteracy Rate

Two donors assisted the ministry from the conception of the adult literacy drive in the development and provision of materials, in the remuneration of literacy promoters, in the mobility of literacy organizers, and in the periodic evaluation of the programme. The donor contribution to the remuneration of part-time staff was reduced over time, and would be completely phased out by the year 2000.

Materials for upper primary education were similarly developed by the ministry with donor assistance.

5.5 Expansion of Basic Education and Training in other Essential Skills

Much of the cooperative work in this area was undertaken with a particular target group or a specific purpose in view, and not as part of an overall coordinated exercise.

5.6 Increased Acquisition by Individuals and Families of the Knowledge, Skills and Values required for Better Living

In this area too, while much was being done, there was little coordination of efforts.

6 Investment in EFA since 1990

6.1 Early Childhood Care and Development

In the years immediately following independence the ministry continued to maintain pre-primary classes and bridging classes attached to primary schools, and a small number of dedicated pre-primary schools, which had been established by ethnic authorities prior to independence. This provision was terminated when it was realized that the cost of extending such provision to all communities throughout the country would be prohibitive. Pre-primary schools operating in government buildings not required for primary classes were allowed to operate as private schools, the facilities being rented from government. Many of the qualified pre-primary teachers were transferred to teaching posts in lower primary classes at government schools.

Government continued to invest in human resource development by the provision of training, monitoring, and the coordination of activities by the Ministries of Regional, Local Government and Housing and of Basic Education and Culture.

6.2 Access to and Completion of Primary Education

Although the ministry’s budget had separate lines for primary and secondary education, the amounts spent on primary and junior secondary education respectively could not be determined with precision. In 1998 twenty-five percent of the ministry’s schools were combined schools, with primary and secondary classes under a single administration, and there had not been consistency in the allocation of the primary level and secondary level costs to the appropriate budget lines. At secondary level it was not possible to discriminate between junior (basic education) and senior secondary costs. Hostel costs were also difficult to separate from school costs. The role of hostel superintendents and supervisors was performed by teachers, for which they received an allowance, which was reflected as part of their remuneration as teachers. The budgeted figures thus gave at best an approximation to the costs in the specific areas.

Secondary unit costs were higher than primary unit costs principally because primary teachers were on average less well qualified than secondary teachers. Unit costs for materials and supplies were applied in the budget only from the 1998/1999 fiscal year, prior to which regions tended to budget according to estimated needs and the amounts were proportionately cut to bring the budget within the guideline amount provided by treasury.

Special schools for learners with disabilities were administered by the head office of the ministry and had separate budgetary provision from the mainstream primary, secondary, and combined schools.

6.3 Improvement in Learning Achievement

It was generally accepted that learning outcomes might be improved by providing better-qualified teachers and by reducing class size. In this context it was important that glaring disparities between regions and between rural and urban areas with respect to teacher qualifications and learner-teacher ratios should be eliminated.

The colonial legacy had been one of wide disparities among the various ethnic groups, and efforts by the ministry to minimize them during the decade met with limited success. It was not possible to redistribute qualified teachers more equitably across the country, largely because of the unavailability of housing in many of the rural areas and delays in the proclamation of townships. Efforts to post newly qualified teachers to remote rural areas were frequently unsuccessful for the same reason. Many teachers were endeavouring by private study to improve their qualifications, either through the ministry-approved BETD course or through one of a number of courses offered by private institutions which, however, were not necessarily sufficiently relevant to the Namibian classroom situation. A shortage of resources prevented expanding BETD admission to match demand.

The ministry might have been expected to demonstrate greater success in reducing disparities in the learner-teacher ratio, since this might more readily be budget-driven. Although the national learner-teacher ratio (primary and secondary) was 29.1 in 1998, 14.4% of schools had ratios in excess of 40. Deliberate efforts to bring all regions closer to the national average had been successful in all but one region, which in 1998 still had an unacceptably low ratio at 21.4. Excluding this region, the range of regional averages had decreased from 24.6 in 1994 to 15.8 in 1998.

The Presidential Commission on Education, Culture and Training recommended that drastic steps be taken to eliminate inequities in the allocation of funds over a three-year period by moving to a strict per capita allocation which would include remuneration and not only materials and supplies.

Another set of factors influencing the quality of education included the provision of facilities and equipment. The building of 1,505 classrooms between 1995 and 1998, mainly at primary schools, tended to address access rather than quality, even where the intention was to replace unacceptable temporary structures. 49 laboratories, 78 libraries, and 16 specialist teaching rooms built during the same period provided opportunities for more effective teaching, although most of these facilities were attached to secondary or combined schools rather than primary schools.

The percentage of schools with toilets increased from 54.4% in 1995 to 60.6% in 1998. In the same period schools with water supplies increased marginally from 57.4% to 59.5%, and schools with electricity from 31.2% to 35.7%.

Some of the construction work was done by the communities served by the schools, in some cases with the involvement of NGOs or donors. The expenditure associated with the provision of facilities managed by the ministry is reflected in the table below. Facilities built from the ministry’s development budget were furnished from the same source; facilities built with donor funds often had to be furnished by regional offices from the government budget.

Table 2: MBEC Development Budget in N$ million


Financial Year























Source: MBEC Physical facilities unit

6.4 Reduction of the Adult Illiteracy Rate

A full analysis of costs was not available. The remuneration of part-time literacy promoters escalated from N$2.66 million in the 1993/94 financial year to N$26.89 million in the 1998/99 financial year. This was partly the result of increased activity, and partly of improved remuneration rates within the government service.

6.5 Expansion of Education and Training in other Essential Skills

It was not possible to isolate these costs.

6.6 Increased Acquisition by Individuals and Families of the Knowledge, Skills and Values required for Better Living

It was not possible to isolate these costs.

Draft report of the Presidential Commission on education, culture and training, page 15

EMIS: 1998 education statistics, Table 62

EMIS: 1998 education statistics, Table 61

EMIS: 1998 education statistics, Table 65

Information provided by MBEC Finance division

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