Numerous challenges burden education

Windhoek-Despite the government having enrolled over 700,000 learners countrywide, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture continues to face abundant challenges.

Some of the challenges are schools still operating in inadequate classrooms, having dilapidated and makeshift hostel accommodation, and a lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities, which adversely affect school attendance and the health of learners.

This was revealed by Education, Arts and Culture Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa on Friday, when she delivered an address on the state of the education sector and launched the Friends of Education in Namibia Special Initiative (FENSI).

The minister said the school system is characterized by a total number of 1,846 schools, which include primary, combined, secondary and others.

Further she stated these public schools accommodate a total of 733,636 learners of whom 367,624, or 50.1 percent, are female, while 366,012 or 49.9 percent are male.

Hanse-Himarwa noted the number of teachers deployed at these schools total 29,167, which comprises 9,978 or 34.2 percent male, while 19,189 or 65.8 percent are female.

She said secondary schools face similar challenges to those of primary schools such as limited financial resources to cater for the implementation of the revised junior secondary curriculum, a high demand for classroom space, hostel accommodation and staff deployment. According to the 2017 15th School Day Statistics, the figures of teaching staff include those employed in private schools.

Further, she indicated that high repetition and dropout rates and discipline remain a challenge in many schools.

She requested parents, guardians and stakeholders at large to join hands to support schools in instilling good moral values and behaviour in children.

For the Grade 12 national examinations, she revealed a total of 22,101 full-time candidates registered for the Grade 12 ordinary level in 2017, compared to 20,976 candidates in 2016. This represents an increase of 1,125 (5.1 percent) of full-time candidates when compared to 2016.

As for part-time candidates, she said a total 34,215 part-time candidates registered for the October/November 2017 national examinations, which shows an increase of 4,691 or 13.7 percent on the 29,524 who registered in 2016.

Furthermore, she noted a total of 16,302 candidates registered full-time and part-time for the Grade 12 higher level in 2017 compared to 15,272 candidates for both full-time and part-time in 2016.

This represents an increase of 1,030 or 6.3 percent for both full-time and part-time candidates when compared to 2016.

Regarding the Namibia School Feeding Programme, she said currently a total of 364,854 learners in the primary school phase benefit from the school feeding programme.

Since its introduction in 1994, the minister explained, the programme has proven its worth as learners in some regions rely on the one meal only per day.

She added that the feeding scheme has improved access and retention of learners at schools as well as overall performance.

During her previous address, she reported that decentralization of the programme was planned for April 2017.

We have delivered in this regard as this national programme has been decentralized to our regional directorates under the regional councils that will own the processes of procurement and transportation. Significant progress is being made to reduce cost by diversifying the food basket and to source commodities from smallholder farms locally, including through 'home-grown school feeding', she maintained.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia