By: Hilma Tuukondjele
Swapo party youth league (SPYL)’s secretary for education, Hofni Iipinge, has proposed making Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) studies a compulsory subject in lower grades curriculum.
Iipinge told The Villager that according to his research, there is a lack of ICT studies in lower grades and some secondary schools across the country disadvantage learners.
He said this robs learners of much-needed skills and survival tools in the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) world, adding that it is narrowing their employability chances.
“There is a need for the early exposure of our learner community to the 4IR. I concur that this notion should be highly adhered to and implemented without further delay,” said Iipinge.
He called upon the vigorous inclusion of ICT studies in the school curriculum and the subsequent provision of a laptop for every child’s desk.
“At the secondary school level, I discovered that most of our unsuccessful learners in Grades 10 or 11 end up in the streets without any practical experiences. Most of these learners have to resort to scavenging for jobs in restaurants, hotels, bars and supermarkets, which are all of late operated and administered on automated machines and technological implements for which they lack basic operational knowledge at the time of leaving school,” he explained.
Additionally, he said the status quo had incarcerated many people in the claws and chains of unemployment due to a lack of computer literacy.
He emphasised that ICT would boost the learners’ cognitive development and open many doors for the future, adding that the country needs to educate its people for safety and security.
“It is time for Namibia to campaign for economic empowerment practically but not just rhetorically vigorously.”
Iipinge suggested that the country should cut more on imports and start producing its own goods to feed the people and for employment purposes.
When asked about how realistic buying laptops is while kids are being taught under the trees and need classrooms in certain parts of the country, he said that it requires planning before implementation and that statistically, the country needs over 4,000 classrooms across the country, including computer labs.
This comes as the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) recently revealed that only 500 schools out of 1,800 have access to basic technological infrastructure, while there are no plans to allocate funds for this purpose anytime soon.
In 2020, following the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the deputy director of information technology in the education, arts and culture ministry, Johan van Wyk revealed that government needed N$500 million to fully implement its e-learning needs to cater for learners whose normal learning schedule has been disrupted by
Meanwhile, National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) director Patrick Simalumba says that in the wake of Covid-19, ICT is now available in a subject called information communication, where learners are taught the the basics. This, he said, is implemented in grades four to seven while stating that computer studies is also available in the school curricula on a compulsory basis.
Simalumba added that the tools needed such as laptops, computers, and tablets are unavailable due to financial difficulties.
“We are developing a policy and we are mobilising resources to make sure that we see how we can start with certain schools especially those connected to computers, the internet and those having labs and start offering resources,” he said.
According to him, the ministry will host a conference next week on digital transformation and blended learning issues.
“When it comes to computers, it has to do with connectivity, data, gadgets such as computers, they need specific funds for replacement of tools, there is a need for ICT people to ensure and indicate that it is the state of affairs,” he added.
Simalumba concluded that it’s about innovative sources, and there are some platforms where e-learning materials are developing already.