Director- General of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Tom Alweendo believes that although there is need to improve the country’s literacy rate the country need to continue funding other key sectors of the economy.
Alweendo said Government needs to create a balance between sustainable funding education and making sure that all other sectors of the economy are catered for as well.
“Education has been receiving the necessary support, more schools have been build, and education facilities have been implemented and ensured. However, as much as we want to make sure that literacy rate is increasing, we must not provide all funds to education, we must consider the economy and assure that other sectors get the necessary funding they need,” he said.
The lack of enough school and other educational facilities and enough funding is the reason why most Namibian adults are illiterate, but the government has implemented measures to ensure that even adults become literate, as the Ministry of Education has been working towards making sure that adults get the necessary education they need, Alweendo said.
Last year, The Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA) revealed in their Regional Profiles that the //Karas, Erongo and Khomas regions lead the country’s literacy rate with 97% among people aged 15 years and older, with the Hardap Region at 2nd place with a literacy rate of 91%.
The figures are higher than the country’s national literacy rate, which is estimated at 89%. The national average is however higher than the 65% literacy rate for Kunene Region, 73% for Omaheke Region and the 83% for Otjozondjupa Region.
“The best way forward is to ensure that we meet our competing needs and spend funds in such a way that wen only concentrate only on one aspect of development, that being education,” Alweendo said.
Literacy activities expanded rapidly since its inception in 1992, from about 15,000 learners taught by 700 promoters (literacy teachers) in the first year to about 36,000 learners and 2000.
The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MoEAC) through the Department of Lifelong Learning has been the driving force behind the massive literacy programme that has enrolled and benefitted over 500,000 Namibian men and women over the past 23 years, Minister of Education Katrina Hanse- Himarwa said during the launch of the Adult Literacy Week.
Statistics show that of the 14 regions in the country, literacy stands at 94 % and above in nine regions, which is a clear indication that Namibia is on the right track as a nation in addressing Adult Literacy, the regions being: //Karas, Hardap, Khomas, Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Zambezi, Erongo and Oshikoto.
“Education brings sustainability to all the development goals, and literacy is the foundation of all learning. Literacy provides individuals with the skills to understand the world and shape it, to participate in democratic processes and have a voice, and also to strengthen their cultural identity,” Hanse- Himarwa said.
For individuals, families, and societies alike, literacy is an instrument of empowerment to improve one’s health, one’s income, one’s lively hood and one’s relationship with the world, she added.
“A literate community is a dynamic community, one that exchanges ideas and engages in debate. Illiteracy, however, is an obstacle to a better quality of life, and can even breed exclusion and violence,” she said.