Hanse-Himarwa should admit our education is sick

One can certainly not expect different results by carrying out a difficult task using the same method which had failed before. Ideally, the person is expected to change.

It is also the same when a doctor is expected to cure a disease without dealing with knowing the symptoms. Such is a description which suits the predicament which the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa is facing.

The Ministry announced a bunch of sickly educational results last week, showing that out of the 20 301fulltime students who sat for exams at grade 12, only 6056 will qualify to enter into tertiary institutions like the University of Namibia (Unam), the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the International University of Management (IUM).

What a shame. The numbers are even a national shame if we include the part-time students. We are driving towards a goal of Vision 2030 which needs experts and hopes for a knowledge-based economy, but we are certainly not doing the right things to make sure we have our own experts cultivated from here.

It is a pity that the minister’s challenge is that universities will not have a large selection pool, while the real challenge should be that there are too many grade 12 graduates who cannot be accommodated into tertiary institutions.

God also knows the quality of passes we are counting because certainly if a D symbol is also viewed as a pass, then we have a bigger mediocre than we can unpack. By merely imagining that over 12 000 pupils did not make it further, we can safely say the sector is sick and needs a very strong antidote to recover.

The challenges facing the education sector obviously needs more than just Government pumping money into that sphere through universal free education, but a thorough consultation and examination with experts as well.

The Minister in charge ought to know this. Where are the rest of these students going, bearing in mind that we do not have enough vocational training Institutions in the country, and the curriculum offered at secondary level does not properly prepare pupils for non-academic work like painting, technical drawing, carpentry, art, music, technical graphics or even national computer driving licences?

The situation for those who failed is exacerbated by the fact that the Namibian College of Open Learning (Namcol) has its own challenges, including shortages of full- time teachers.

It is well-known anywhere where education has flourished that not all pupils are academicallyinclined, and the Ministry of basic Education ought to know better and start introducing technical subjects in high school as a matter of urgency.

It is also a pity that while education is always the biggest benefactor of the national budget, some Namibian children still have to learn under trees or in corrugated iron-sheet classrooms. And apparently we expect good results: from where?

It is a pity that sometimes when you move around in town and at one of these fancy shopping malls you tend to find pupils gallivanting, one wonders what time they are in school and when they study. Certainly, the problems in schools are too many to mention, and results actually show this.

After seeing these bad results, you are tempted to ask: do we have enough teachers in schools? Do we have good facilities? Do our children get enough books in classes, and is the ministry aware of the challenges faced by schools? The solution to this educational quagmire is very simple.

The Minister of Education needs to fold her cuffs, get into the field and acclimatise with the difficulties schools go through to find remedies urgently. Only then when the environment is sorted can we expect good results.

Ideally, we suppose the minister should have seen such a challenge coming. If the ministry is siting with a backlog and challenge of needing around 5000 teachers, especially those with the ability to teach important subjects like Mathematics and Science, how would we extricate ourselves from such a cobweb of problems?

Hanse-Himarwa ought to change the formula, if anything is to be done to remedy these challenges.