By: Priscilla Mukokobi
Education minister Ester Anna Nghipondoka officially decentralized functions to regional councils in Otjiwarongo on Thursday.
Nghipondoka said that the educational sector had favored decentralization since 1977.
The ministry presented its first draft decentralization action in 1999 with the intention of decentralizing primary and secondary schools, community libraries, adult education, arts and culture programs, and school hostels to the regional councils.
Nghipondoka added that there have been consultations before the signing of letters between the staff members of the ministry and the union.
“This means that 39 025 staff members (teaching and non-teaching) have been seconded, including buildings of 1 947 schools, 237 hostels, 17 special libraries, 66 public libraries, 503 functional school libraries, 75 circuit offices, regional offices, and teachers’ resources centres (TRS) have been delegated to Regional Councils,” she said.
The ministry was joined by the directorates of arts and culture in 2005 to continue the same process to prepare for delegation.
“Experience has taught us that clear communication channels and procedures are critical and important for both the ministry of education arts and culture and the regional councils,” she said.
At the handover, the minister of urban and rural development, Erastus Uutoni, stated that the significance of decentralization in Namibia can be tracked back to article 1 of the Namibia constitution which recognizes that all power shall vest in the people of Namibia, who shall exercise their sovereignty through democratic institutions of the state.
Uutoni added that the ultimate goal is to promote the welfare of the citizens by delivering and ensuring access to timely and efficient services as well as involving the community in the planning and realization of their development.
“As I have mentioned already, public institutions are created for a purpose and their relevance is assessed based on how well they are serving the purpose for which they were created,” he said.
He added that the functions of arts and culture that are being decentralized are very critical in the development of the country and the Namibian people.
He further said that the arts and culture sector offers a lot of opportunities and benefits for society.
“Given the noted declining opportunities in the sector that used to be traditional or main drivers of employment and growth, sectors such as arts and culture offer great potential and new opportunities for growth and recovery of our economy,” he said.
He urged political leaders at the regional level to continue to lead and ensure effective accountability and execution of the decentralized functions and the realization of the expected impact of the public.
Uutoni appealed to the ministers and all the regional council staff members to continue to be involved and provide the required supervision and back-stopping support to the regional council.