Statistics from the recently released Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate grade 12 results indicate that more than 47 000 students of those that registered for exams will not be making it for tertiary education this year.
Education, Arts and Culture minister, Katrina Hanse Himarwa, confirmed in a press statement that during the 2017 academic year, candidates totaling 56 305 registered for Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate at 188 full-time and 129 part-time examination centres nationally.
This number consists of 22 091 full-time and 34 214 part-time students.
A paltry 8 632 (39.3%) qualified to enter institutions of higher learning, a situation that has seen the ministry missing the target of a required 40% with 0.7%.
Himarwa said in 2016, the percentage stood at 36.8% representing a total of 7 772 students that met the requirements to be admitted at tertiary institutions.
Dean for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Namibia (Unam), Jairus Kangira, says the fact that the bulk of the registered students have failed to see the door of universities is shocking.
“That paltry 8 000 is a big cause for concern for the whole nation, for everyone, especially us who are in education. We would accept something better, 8 000? I am shocked!” exclaims the professor.
Kangira says the way forward would be for government to invest more in Vocational Education and Training.
“Because if we take 8 000 from 56 000 it means more than 40 000, where are they going? So if we have (more) vocational training institutions then people can be trained to have some diplomas and certificates and find employment because not everyone is gifted academically,” he says.
Another Unam based academic and commentator, Professor Roman Grynberg says rather than looking at the numbers, focus has to be put on quality since the economy is not employing many of the university graduates.
“First you have to answer the question, will going to university help them? Even if they all got in, are there jobs for all of them, do you think (so)? I know there isn’t because most of our graduates, a substantial proportion of our graduates are unemployed.”
“Having good mathematics and what they call STEM, Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics skills is important to any country but the economy is so dull at the moment that going to university is not going to help this child,” he says.
Grynberg adds, “The presumption is that if you send all of them to university they will have jobs afterwards. And if that’s the case, the answer is no! It’s absolutely not going to happen.”
However, the fact that part-time students make up the bulk of those that registered as opposed to full-time students should shift the blame on the students themselves since most of those at Namcol skip lessons, Kangira says.
“I saw the director of Namcol on television the other day saying that he was disappointed by the low pass rates which were due to non-attendance of classes which means they are not very strict. These people just register and they do not go for classes and they just come to write. And we can not file the blame only on government and Namcol, there must be a paradigm shift in the students and parents so that they take education seriously,” explains the professor.