Education overhaul on the cards

 


Ministry of Education will introduce Advanced Level at senior high school next year as part of a raft of measures meant to strengthen the country’s education system in line with the needs of the industry and economic growth after a cabinet approval two weeks ago The Villager can reveal.
This will see pupils spending 13 years in high school before enrolling for tertiary education. As part of improving the education quality a  road map will be followed and implemented in phases.
The Ministry is also expected to increase emphasis on vocational education in a bid to improve the quality of school graduates  whilst encouraging them to create their own employment opportunities. According to the Minister of Education Dr David Namwandi the move to relook the educational curriculum comes after long consultations with cabinet and other countries including Zimbabwe, Mauritius United Kingdom, Malaysia, Swaziland, Germany, Singapore, Finland, Australia  and South Africa.
Advanced level is used in all British former colonies and has potential to bridge the gap between pupils from high school and tertiary levels as it concentrates on an in-depth level of subject delivery. .

The first phase of the new curriculum will start at the Primary school level next year. The MoE sought approval from cabinet, to allow qualified teachers from other Sadc countries to assist Namibian schools in accordance with the SADC protocol of 1992, while the Government trains its own teachers at the University of Namibia.
“The Ministry has realised that it is necessary to review the Namibian education structure as the curriculum for Basic Education is reviewed to ensure coherence and articulation between different sub-sectors of the education system. The curriculum review that has been concluded aims at identifying the gaps and weaknesses to ensure that the curriculum remains current and relevant to reflect new developments in the society to adequately prepare learners for life,” said Namwandi.
Namwandi who acknowledges that there are a plethora of challenges facing the education system argued that the notion that the country’s education system is in shambles is farfetched. "With all due respect we are facing problems but it is not fair for people to make sweeping statements that the whole education is in tatters. What does that say about the lawyers that we have produced? What does that say about the scientist who came from our system and made it into the international prestigious universities?" Namwandi queried.
In his view, “To say that the education system is a mess is a bit far-fetched. We cannot undermine those who came before us, the ones who did away with the most hated system “We would understand when people say something needs to change but not that the system is failing us, this system even won us an award at Unesco. Systems were developed, built and run. For the past 24 year the government has done well; we have scientists in the country, we are on course”.
A rather upbeat Namwandi also took a swipe at industry for failing to contribute to their development of education saying, "Education is a shared responsibility and even those companies that complain should also contribute to training because everyone has to play their part."


 New concept
The curriculum is focused on Basic Education with one of the aspects being the changed school structure system. The current primary, junior secondary and senior secondary phases with seven, three and two years respectively to a school system consisting of seven years of primary education, two years of junior secondary education and three years of senior secondary education if learners take subjects at A-level.
Junior primary years will be comprised of four years inclusive of a pre-primary year. The curriculum content in Grade four tends to be challenging to a number of teachers thus it will be a part of the senior primary phase which means that this phase will change from three years to four years. Some schools have made internal arrangements for class teaching to be practiced as opposed to subject teaching.
Namwandi said, “The implementation depends on quality learning support materials (textbooks), adequate numbers of qualified teachers, conducive learning environments, intensive in-service training of teachers and commitment of school managers, teachers and parents”.
The senior secondary phase has changed from two years to three years and it will start from grade 10. The National Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary Level (NSSCO) will be a two year course whereas the National Senior Secondary Certificate Higher Level (NSSCH) will be a one year course.
“The NSSCH will not be benchmarked against the Higher International General Certificate of Secondary Education (HIGSCE) because it no longer exists. NSSCH will be benchmarked against the Cambridge Advanced Subsidiary Level (AS),” said Namwandi.
NSSCO national examinations will be written at the end of Grade 11. The qualification is equivalent to the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGSCE), which is the middle secondary qualification for children between the ages of 14 to 16 and which is taken in over 100 countries.
As of 2015, Namwandi noted that secondary education will be free of charge alongside a revised curriculum of the junior primary phase being implemented, the senior primary phase will be implemented in 2016 and by 2017 the junior secondary phase will be implemented. Starting from grade 10 the senior secondary phase of the revised curriculum will be implemented in 2019, the grade 11 phase will be implemented in 2020, the grade 12 phase in 2021 and eventually in 2022 the A-level (grade 13).
Vocational Subjects Re-introduced
 Namwandi also revealed that the changes were being introduced based on the fact that only 25% of the pupils in the country’s schools are academic oriented while 75% are more inclined to technical subjects.“I do not know why technical subjects were removed from schools. This will work with determination and shared responsibilities. People are just reluctant to change and change is the only constant thing, this change is because of uncertainty. Grade 5 to 7 learners will take eight promotional subjects which include three pre-vocational subjects. In addition they will take four non-promotional support subjects,” added Namwandi.
At predominant academic schools where no specialised work rooms are required, some of the pre-vocational subjects will be offered. These schools will offer the following subjects; agriculture, accounting, office practice, entrepreneurship, computer studies, design and technology, visual art and integrated performing arts.
MoE plan to introduce subjects including agriculture, entrepreneurship, computer studies, office practice, technical studies technical drawing, home economics, fashion and fabrics and hospitality.
A modular approach will be used to teach technical and vocational subjects in the senior secondary phase and learners can then opt to specialise in one or two subject areas.
“By specialising in one or two related technical/vocational areas learners will be adequately prepare for the next Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) part of articulation,” said Namwandi.