ARTE, the African Resurgence Through Education, is an ideological embodiment of the quest to true human emancipation of the indigenous people of Africa, through education.
ARTE advocates for the essence of true and quality education based upon the acquisition of knowledge and skills, an education based on intelligence plus character.
This piece delineate synopsis of what the Namibian education system managed to achieve, 23 years after independence, and what is considered to be major efforts worth advancing as we educate a nation in the 21st century economy.
We moved from singing school to learning. History has it on record that 88 years ago (1924, to be precise) the Resident Representative of the Union of South Africa in Windhoek wrote a letter to the Governor General in Pretoria in which he described the education of black people to this effect….
“The learning of the bible and singing is proceeding very well with the nations”. The legacy of ‘singing’ school is far-fetched in Namibia. In Kavango, when a child goes to school, we say you are singing school. Singing school was not education at all, it was a process of mis-education, de-education.
More schools were built, enhancing access to education. This is an achievement worth acknowledging. At least we have more children going to school than before independence. Qualitatively, we can argue that the education system is not good enough but it is better to learn something then nothing at all.
We now have free primary education. Twenty-three years on, we have fulfilled one aspect of our constitutional obligation, free education. It has started with the primary phase and we must take it further to tertiary level.
We are busy expanding and qualitating pre-primary education. Scholars argue that children with a strong foundation of pre-primary education have the potential to perform academically well. This is very important for us as a nation and in the 21st century. It is an effort that would help alleviate school dropouts and high failure rate.
The establishment of schools of excellence. The Divundu Vision School is a token of appreciation. The challenge in the 21st century is to take this initiative further and ensure that each region has a school with the same facilities as the Divundu Vision School.
For ARTE, the future matters more than yesterday and yesteryears. The 21st century economy dictates that we do more to educate our Namibian children in the following areas:
That we reform high school curriculum and link it to university courses so that our children do not enter tertiary level with too much academic backlog and struggle with their studies at universities and colleges. That we establish world-class universities whose curriculum is not out of sync with the outside world, so we can send our students and for extensive internships outside the country and come back with adequate knowledge and skills to build our economy.
That we selectively choose students and send them to highly reputable academic institutions in Europe, Asia and America and ensure that these students come back and serve our nation.
That we create first-rate research facilities that carries extensive studies and develop new ideas, discoveries and programs to help us deal with the future and the challenges of the 21st century.
That we continue to provide resources and support to Early Childhood Education to ensure strong educational foundation in our children and that no child is left behind.
That we create schools and curriculum where children are taught vocational skills with more practice than theory. Inspire our children to develop a sense of purpose, instead of spending long hours playing PlayStation and Face booking during classes, we teach them how to develop software programs and know how to create social networks.
That we inspire our children to understand that in spite of the fact that science and technology is important, the 21st century dictates that they develop entrepreneur and social skills and attitudes that would help solve the social ills our nation is experiencing today.
Namibia is a well-resourced country, both in terms of the minerals that the good lord left under our soil and the people who live here. Is it too late to do something now? No, it is not too late. How long will it take? Not long, because the young people that I see every day are beginning to appreciate that there is a nexus between problems, crises and possibilities. How long? Not long, because politician and lawmakers are beginning to realize that you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time. How long? Not long, because like Antonio Granuski would say: “The old is dying and the new is struggling to be born”. How long? Not long, because the voices out there do not see colonialism as the major problem. The voices out there see HIV/AIDS, unemployment, underdevelopment, poverty, self-righteousness, and political arrogance and intolerance as the major diseases of today. Therefore my friends, we need, in the spirit of celebrating 23 years of political independence, to turn to one another and say YES, WE CAN!
Until next time, I rest my case!