The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Alfred Ilukena, has accepted the research findings that label Namibia’s secondary education quality as poor.
The findings of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) suggest that Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate ordinal level (NSSC) has not been accepted internationally, due to the low level of the education system.
In agreeing with the findings, Ilukena said, “We have the Namibia High Senior Secondary Certificate (NHSSC) which will not be rejected by any local institution. We know that the outside institutions will recognize the NHSSC, which enables our learners who intend to study abroad to go straight to their field of studies without not being held a year or two back.”
Ilukena, however, disagreed with the statistics findings that say there are only 1500 schools in the country of which 100 are private owned, saying that according to the Ministry’s statistics, in 2012 there were 1604 states schools in total and 119 private owned schools. Primary schools were 956 state owned and 62 private owned, 453 state owned and 45 private owned primary schools, 184 state owned secondary schools and 12 private owed secondary schools.
Ilukena further said it is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to determine and decide for private and public sector whom to employ.
“We can only stand in for our teachers who we employ. Our job is to train people and after we are done with them, they move on to look for work of which we cannot control.”
There are still employees under the Ministry of Education who came through the ranks before independence or immediately after independence. Ilukena said these people might not necessarily have qualifications to show that they can do the job, but they do have the work experience in what they do. Subsequently, the Ministry introduced Prior Learning programme, a learning platform for employees who have been working under its mandate to ensure that they have qualifications to support and prove their work experience. “Employees with work experience cannot be compared to those that are new graduates from the university who only knows the theory but not practical. These experienced employees are the most people you find doing the most dangerous work mostly in mining industries,” he said.
He further explained that one of the high educational institutions (International University of Management) is the only institution focusing on offering management subjects. “Management cannot be studied separately but as an additional subject to the main field of study. It is not possible for all of us to study management, what will we manage and who will be managed?” he said continuing that “in terms of management at school level, one has to start off as a teacher and learn how to manage his classroom, and then later he can apply for an extra management course for him to be able to get the principal position.”
“With education it is different, you do not invest so that tomorrow you will harvest but it is a social investment which is investing in human resources of the country. For instance, for someone who was born at the time independence and he has been attending school for about 20 years now, we are still waiting to see the fruits of this person in 5 to 6 years to come. The problem with people is that they want to see the results of the investment that was done last year which is not possible, these are long term investment,” he explained.
The student-teacher ratio is supposed to be 1:25 at primary level and 1:28 in secondary school, but this is not possible in some parts of the country. He however said there are some other factors that might contribute to the increased student-teacher ratio such as urbanization.
“What happens with urbanization is that there are pull factors, which then leads to education facilities in the city and towns to be full to capacity and exceeding the set student-teacher ratio,” he said, adding that “There is a situation in rural areas where you have special concentration of the population depending on seasons and so on. There are certain areas at a time the Ministry is forced to close down facilities because there are no learners to be in classes and the Ministry cannot relocate learners from overcrowded places to less crowded ones, this leads to multi-grade teaching.”