Pohamba Stole Free Education Idea – Opposition

Opposition parties are claiming the introduction of free education in secondary schools as announced by President Pohamba last week is an idea they aocated for quite sometime in the past.

They are thus not surprised that government is working on plans to roll out free secondary education by 2016. Although contending the idea is theirs, they did admit in an interview with New Era the plan is a step in the right direction. All People’s Party (APP) president, Ignatius Shixwameni, said the APP has been one of the original proponents of free education from primary to tertiary level.

“We welcome the move, but we are saying that it should be implemented now, not wait for 2016. We are still insisting that university, college and vocational education should also be made free. It should not be about postponements. We urgently need to develop our human resources capacity. Swapo must shift into fifth gear,” Shixwameni urged.

DTA president McHenry Venaani said the move was not surprising as “it has been the DTA’s call to have free education from pre-primary to university.” Venaani said Namibia “can afford it – if Botswana has achieved it then so can we. The president [Pohamba] said free secondary education will be implemented by 2016, why postpone it for two years? Pohamba is playing a political game. If he wants his call to be taken seriously, he must implement it now,” Venaani said.

Last week, Pohamba publicly announced that he had tasked the Minister of Education Dr David Namwandi to formulate a plan that will see free secondary education being offered at all state schools. The free education is expected to commence in 2016 and comes hot on the heels of government having started to offer free primary education in 2013 in accordance with Article 20 of the Namibian Constitution.

The secretary for information and publicity of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), Jeremia Nambinga, also came out with guns blazing, saying: “The Swapo Party is literally stealing our political policies and that is what they are busy implementing.” Nambinga said “we are not surprised at all” at the public pronouncement of Pohamba, adding that last year in March the RDP introduced free education from primary to university level in its policies to be implemented should the party get into power.

“We even went further to say that if we are elected to power, students who have no means to pay for themselves will be assisted by our government. So we are not surprised. Swapo is just copying our policies. Just imagine, why was that after we introduced our policies, President Pohamba then announces free secondary education. Why could Swapo not have done it earlier?” Nambinga asked rhetorically.

The RDP additionally accused the Swapo-led government of stealing the idea that those who failed Grade 10 be allowed to repeat the grade, which the education ministry implemented in 2012. “We were the first party to lend our hands on that idea. Swapo is just copying our ideas,” alleged Nambinga.

Venaani said government should cancel the N$600 million budgeted for the construction of the new administration complex for the prime minister’s office and the budget for the construction of other buildings such as for parliament, and instead channel the money to the implementation of free secondary education.

Republic Party (RP) member of parliament Clara Gowases said the RP welcomed the move that has for 24 years of independence been overdue. “It is really a good move because parents are struggling with school and examination fees especially for grades 10 and 12. But what is not clear is whether such fees are included in free secondary education or not. It is good that the president announced it earlier before implementation, not like free primary education which had problems when it was announced,” she said.

Gowases urged the education ministry to plan their budget properly and ensure that free secondary education becomes a reality without hindrances. “We don’t want problems such as stationery and textbooks arriving late at schools. Such a move if properly planned will at least encourage pupils to pass well because many drop out of school due to exorbitant school fees,” she noted.

Source : New Era