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Part III: Prospects

12 Policy Directions for the Future

12.1 Early Childhood Care and Development

The expectation that government should finance pre-primary education is unrealistic. The media should be used to inform the public of sound ways in which to influence the development of their children and prepare them for school. By raising awareness within communities of the importance of early childhood development, local initiatives in this regard may be encouraged. Literacy materials and adult upper primary learning materials may include references to this subject. Schools, particularly primary schools, could be encouraged to address this topic during parent evenings.

12.2 Access to and Completion of Primary Education

Access must be extended to marginalized groups and children with disabilities. Since this will, on a per capita basis, be more expensive than the current unit costs for primary learners, strategies will have to be developed for bringing about economies in the rest of the system or for increasing cost recovery at the post-primary levels. The provision of hostel accommodation in the present highly-subsidized manner will have to be reviewed.

The current policy of extending incomplete primary schools to cover all seven grades where enrolment justifies this, should be pursued, so that as many children as possible may attend a primary school within walking distance of their homes.

The practice of rewarding teachers financially for paper qualifications beyond the minimum requirement should be reviewed as a way of containing or reducing the average unit cost.

12.3 Improvement in Learning Achievement

The recommendations made by the task force on a ten-year plan for educator development and support need to be carefully assessed and implemented as far as practically possible in an effort to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom. Present deficiencies in the strategies employed by the inspectorate and advisory teachers need to be addressed so that this form of support to teachers may be more effective.

Small schools in remote areas necessitate multi-grade teaching. Teachers feel that they are not trained to handle multi-grade classes effectively, and there is a general sense that not more than two grade levels can be successfully combined in one class. Teacher education programmes, and particularly the BETD curriculum, need to be reviewed to include this dimension; or alternatively, specific training in handling multi-grade classes needs to be provided to teachers who are assigned to schools with such classes. Teachers currently teaching at such schools should be given in-service training to handle their classes more effectively. A training package for this purpose, which can be administered by identified trainers as the need arises, should be assembled.

The junior secondary curriculum includes a large number of optional "pre-vocational" subjects, for some of which no institution trains teachers. The ministry has already committed itself to a review of the curriculum during the course of next year. The streamlining of the pre-vocational offerings will form part of this process.

Anecdotal evidence and responses to census questionnaires suggest that many schools fail to teach non-promotion subjects. Since these subjects are carriers of ethical values and life skills, the reasons why they are neglected need to be determined and addressed.

Where the demand for school places at primary level exceeds supply, a system of double sessions is implemented. Anecdotal evidence suggests that children attending the afternoon session perform less well than those attending the morning session. This needs to be investigated empirically, and the policy needs to be reviewed in the light of the findings. If children attending the afternoon session are indeed disadvantaged, a policy directed at preventing the expansion of afternoon sessions and ultimately phasing out the practice needs to be designed.

Better parental support for the schools attended by their children needs to be encouraged. Programmes for improving community participation, currently being piloted, need to be improved and extended so that the partnership between home and school is strengthened.

An accelerated programme for the provision of toilets to schools also needs to be implemented, as does a programme for the provision of water to schools which do not currently have ready access to this commodity. The teaching of hygiene in the absence of these utilities is likely to be seen as irrelevant.

A concerted effort needs to be made to wipe out the backlog of classrooms. At the present rate of building, employing both government and donor funds, the backlog will take between seven and ten years to wipe out. Many of the structures in which children are currently being taught are totally unsuitable for effective teaching. Furniture, equipment and materials used in these structures deteriorates rapidly, with the result that learners frequently have to do without these necessary items.

The definition of fundamental quality levels for schools will enable each school to be rated according to accepted standards and for a prioritized building list to be established.

The provision of libraries to schools which have attained a specific enrolment level should be given a high priority rating. Smaller schools should have classroom collections of library books. The ministry’s current target of having at least one library book for every child should be implemented as speedily as possible and higher targets should be set.

A programme should be devised for bringing information technology to schools with upper primary and junior secondary grades. The training of teachers to use the resource should form part of the strategy.

12.4 Reduction of the Adult Illiteracy Rate

Realistic targets were set for the year 2000. Over the next decade efforts should be made to wipe out illiteracy completely, using the mechanisms which have already proved to be effective.

Targets should be set for the delivery of upper primary education to those who have completed the basic literacy training, both to consolidate what has already been learnt, and to open up opportunities for life-long learning.

Community libraries, which should also provide access to information technology, should be provided to a targeted number of communities. Where feasible, school and community libraries should be linked.

The media, particularly radio, should be used to support the upper primary education curriculum for adults.

12.5 Expansion of Basic Education and Training in other Essential Skills

Community learning centres are still in the experimental phase. Lessons learned need to be translated into improved programmes as rapidly as possible so that these centres may both assist in the consolidation of literacy skills and provide a range of entrepreneurial and job skills.

12.6 Increased Acquisition by Individuals and Families of the Knowledge, Skills and Values Required for Better Living

Programmes in this area are essentially linked to the other areas.

13 Conclusion

Reporting can be enhanced by agreeing at the outset what is to be reported and how it is to be reported. Namibia is fortunate in having reliable statistical data for the period 1992 to 1998. Had it been known at the outset, for example, that reporting would be required on whether grade 1 entrants had attended an organized early childhood development programme, this data could have been collected. It is assumed that this has been a learning process for all involved in the setting of objectives, designing of strategies, implementing of programmes, and reporting on education for all, and that if this continues to be a priority for the next decade the benefits from the lessons learnt will be apparent.

While it is necessary to monitor progress and to learn from data that is collected, the collection of data and compilation of reports should be done as economically as possible, with due regard for whether the resources used for reporting might not better be devoted to implementation. In this regard it is important that regional or international monitoring exercises should be well coordinated with the needs of member countries for information and their capacity for collecting and processing it. Countries should not be burdened with collecting information which they do not themselves need, or in a form which is not going to be useful to them. Where information is to be compared across countries, it is essential that it be comparable, and that the resources (time, personnel, logistics, finance) are available for piloting the insruments within each of the countries which will be participating in the full survey.

For Namibia, the monitoring exercise has not turned up any surprise results. This is because the country has, during its first decade of independence, enjoyed very lively debate on the effectiveness and efficiency of its educational programmes. It has nevertheless been a useful exercise to bring a range of relevant material together in one document, and the standard format of the reports will make comparisons with other countries interesting and informative. No doubt the experiences of other countries will influence some of the decisions which Namibia takes for the next decade.

Acronyms

BETD Basic Education Teachers’ Diploma

DABE Directorate of Adult Basic Education

DNEA Directorate of National Examinations and Assessment

ECD Early Childhood Development

EFA Education for All

EMC Educationally Marginalized Children

GRN Government of the Republic of Namibia

ISC Instructional Skills Certificate

MBEC Ministry of Basic Education and Culture

MEC Ministry of Education and Culture

MECYS Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport

MHEVTST Ministry of Higher Education, Vocational Training and Science and Technology

MRLGH Ministry of Regional, Local Government and Housing

NAMCOL Namibian College of Open Learning

NBC National Broadcasting Corporation

NGO Non-Governmental Organization

NLPN National Literacy Programme in Namibia

WCEFA World Conference on Education for All

WDEFA World Declaration on Education for All

Bibliography

GRN: 1991 population and housing census, report B, volume 1 (April 1994)

GRN: First national development plan (NDP!), volume 1 (1995/1996 – 1999/2000)

GRN: Draft report of the Presidential Commission on education, culture and training (Conference edition, 11-13 August 1999)

GRN/UNICEF Mid-term Review (1999)

MBEC: Annual reports for the years 1991 to 1998

MBEC: EMIS education statistics, volumes for 1994 to1998

MBEC: Namibia: Decade of peace and progress towards prosperity (1999)

MBEC: National policy options for educationally marginalised children (1998)

MEC: Education and culture in Namibia: the way forward to 1996 (1991)

MEC: Education, culture and training in perspective: annual review and further directives for 1993 (1992)

MEC: Namibia national conference on the implementation of the language policy for schools, Ongwediva Training Centre, 22-26 June 1992 (Longman Namibia, 1993)

MEC: Pedagogy in transition: the imperatives of educational development in the Republic of Namibia (1991)

MEC: Toward education for all: a development brief for education, culture, and training (Gamsberg Macmillan, 1993)

MECYS: Change with continuity: education reform directive: 1990 (1990)

MECYS: Education in transition: nurturing our future (1990)

MECYS: Namibian educational code of conduct for schools (1990)

Ministry of Higher Education, Vocational Training and Science and Technology: Annual reports for the years 1995 to 1998

NAMCOL: Annual report, 1998.

SWAPO of Namibia: The national integrated education system for emergent Namibia: draft proposal for education reform and renewal [1990]

UNICEF: Early Childhood Development Project, Namibia, 1998.

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