The 2011 population and housing census report, the literacy rate of the Kunene region stood at 67%, however, that figure is predicted to increase to more than 70% for the 2022 academic year.
The region has also upped its adult learning enrollment from 60 to 67%, a figure that is predicted to increase to 78% next year.
These findings were shared with The Villager by the region’s chief education officer for lifelong learning, Usko Shivute recently.
In an exclusive interview, Shivutetold this publication that the region has managed to enrol more than 2000 adult learners in basic literacy, post-literacy programmes including the special programme for people living with disabilities.
“For the 2022 academic year, we managed to enrol a total number of 2256 adult learners who are categorised as follows: Basic literacy 1901, for the post literacy programme 347 adult learners and eight learners were enrolled on the special programme for people living with disabilities (visually impaired and deaf),”he explained.
Due to the vastness of the region and long distances to and from education centres, Shivute said that it is a challenge to include everyone in the programme. However, there have been meaningful progress made over the past 10 years to ensure an improvement and thus they project a 78% rate by the next population and housing census.
The 2021 Population and Housing Census (PHC) which was planned for August last year was postponed mainly due to competing priorities such as the COVID-19 budget prioritization. Again, this year’s scheduled census exercise was not provided for in the national budget of 2022/2023 due to financial constraints and other critical national priorities, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency boss Alex Shimuafeni.
“Kunene is a vast region. As such, access to some schools is a challenge due to distances for some communities. There are some centres where you find the youth attending literacy classes in some areas. We are however left with no choice but to allow them to learn which has proven to be beneficial towards developing their intrinsic thinking levels,”Shivute said.
As per the 2011 population and housing census,the literacy rate of Khorixas was top at 84%, Outjo 78%, Kamanjab 75%, Sesfontein 72%, Opuwo (Urban & Rural) 62% and Epupa 29%.
“These statistics tell that the region is not doing really that bad, nevertheless, it indicates that concerted efforts were needed in the Epupa constituency as we have identified it as a dark spot,” Shivute said.
“Therefore, as a directorate of education, arts and culture in the region we decided to employ more literacy promoters in the Epupa constituency than in other constituencies to enable us to provide adult education to as many residents of Epupa as possible,” he explained.
He said that the region has an annual quota of employing 128 literacy promoters, with the Epupa constituency getting 30% of them. He also praised the vital role that traditional authorities are playing in advocating for adult education.
“We pride ourselves on the positive working relationship we have established with most of the traditional authorities in the region.” He pointed out.“As such, the traditional authorities are our eyes and ears of the programme as they make up the community literacy committees. These committees are pivotal because they are the ones that oversee the operations of the literacy centres in our communities,”he said.
Through the literacy programme, he explained, the government has been able to teach people to read and write andbetter cope with the rapidly changing world. “The disadvantaged and marginalised groups continue to reap the benefits of being literate, making informed decisions, exercising their rights in many respects and and living meaningful lives,” he said.
He said that literate women are more proactive when it comes to their children’s education and are more likely to ensure that their children attend school.
Shivute explained that the literacy programme has made communities to understand health issues which is seen in the low child mortality rates and awareness about HIV/AIDS.
“We continue to assist people to develop specific competencies required in life for self-development, the labour market, and ensuring that occupational mobility and sustainability are enhanced.”
Shivute said that they have a programmes called the Adult Skills Development for Self-Employment which capacitates adult learners to become entrepreneurs and make them them start their own businesses.
As per the 2011 Census, Erongo, //Karas and Khomas regions were leading the country’s literacy rate with 97% of literacy among people aged 15 years and older, with the Hardap region at 91%. The figures are higher than the country’s national literacy rate estimated at 87%.
Shivute explained that the tough economic times have negatively impacted the literacy programme not only in the Kunene region but throughout the country, and other activities of the directorate of education, arts and culture.