The Ministry of Education is currently reviewing the education Act 16 of 2001, in which it wants to do away with pupils paying hostels fees. This is in an attempt to try erase all factors that could hinder children from attending school.
The act that is going to be officially implemented in 2016 intends to make free education access able for all children even those who are lacking education because of accommodation in hostels due to financial limitations.
To avoid unnecessary overcrowding in hostels, regulatory measures will be put in place, which includes looking at the vulnerable, orphaned and distant learners who are in need of education, Hileni Haushona- Amukena , Chief Inspector of Education, who is a coordinating the review of the education act told The Villager.
“The ministry is giving grants to schools, but we are going to have a specific amount included which will cater for the services that were paid for with school fees and hostel fees,” Haushona- Amukena said, adding that they however do not abort any donations that will be made to schools.
The Act is in contradiction with a statutory provisions of which some include the Namibian constitution, Vision 2030, National Development Plan 4 (NDP4) Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, National Agenda for Children 2012-2016 as discussed at a consultative meeting on the Education Review Act in Khomas region recently.
“Cabinet direct to address the following issues as priority, shebeens, pregnancy among learners, adhere to free primary education as per constitution, automatic promotions, expand feeding programme,” Haushona- Amukena said.
She said that after all the consultations which will be made with education officials, which is slated to finish by the end of August this year, a drafted bill be will be submitted by the ministry.
Inviting all Namibians to take part in the reviewing and developing a new public legislation, Hanse- Himarwa recently said Namibians will have the opportunity to provide input and to review drafts as they become available.
“We want to come up with the peoples education act, which ownership lies in the hands of the Namibian people, that is why every effort will be made to consult as broad as possible and get input from all Namibians,” she said.
“Therefore, I am calling for nationwide public participation in the review of the Education Act and developing a new Education Act for Namibia’s children that put education at the centre of our development imperatives,” Hanse- Himarwa added.
Hanse- Himarwa further added that the reviewing of the Educational Act will be to no avail without the input of Namibians. “Let the Education Act not be a document that should be hidden on library shelves or offices. It should be a living document that enshrines our hopes and goals for our children and our nation as a whole. So be part of it, quality education, is our shared responsibility,” she stressed.
The new amended Education Act will align educational programmes to relevant policy and legislation and national priorities such as Vision 2030, the 4TH National Development Plan (NDP4) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) to prepare the population for skills which will drive the economy.
“Beyond the legislative imperative the review of the Education Act also provides a platform for the new legislation to be a document of and for the people, a living document that will ensure that the interests of all parties in proving quality education are reflected,” she added.
She said that the ministry is going to engage young people, youth, parents or guardians, the public, private sector, religious leaders, and policy makers to act on behalf of the learners and vulnerable children to promote fairness, equality and positive learning outcomes.
“We need to identify issues that must be addressed to have a more progressive Education Act which is forward looking and will stand the test of time. We need this review process to plan and integrate,” she noted.
The ministry also appointed a steering committee, compromising of government sectors and agencies, teacher unions, development partners, academia and civil society, to lead the process of conducting the regional consultations. This steering committee will be supported by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the Directorate of Law Reform in the Ministry of Justice.