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N$3 billion for school renovations

By: Kelvin Chiringa

Deputy governor for the central bank of Namibia, Ebson Uanguta has said that government has set aside N$3 billion for nationwide school refurbishments which should come in time to ease pressure in the construction sector.

Uanguta was responding to a question on the impact of the monetary policy on the sector this week at a monetary policy announcement and press briefing.

“The government is going to implement a few projects especially when it comes to public works. There will be some renovations of schools in almost all the regions.”

“I do not have the numbers, but we got a funding that will be renovating schools in the range of about N$3 billion. So that will help in that respect. In addition to that some normal residential renovations,” he said.

Indications on the education ministry’s portal shows that the country has more than 1 500 schools, both primary and secondary.

The jury is still out as to whether the N$3 billion will make the desires cut.

Namibia’s school infrastructure especially in rural areas remains a major concern, and this has contributed to poor pass rates, critics have said.

They are not wrong.

Last year the same sentiment was expressed by education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa at a handover of a N$200 000 donation by the Rainbow Fishing Company last year.

“We have a challenge of proper physical infrastructure and especially now that we have introduced free universal education at primary and secondary level,” she lamented.

The country continues to invest the biggest chunk of funds towards the education sector, but it has come to light that three quarters of that goes to salaries.

Yet the quality of teaching has also come under fire especially from the finance minister who expressed that funding education the most only to get poor pass rates meant teachers were not doing enough.

A local weekly paper recently carried a story headlined “Uneducated educators” which expressed the following:

“A rainy day is the best time to check whether the roof is watertight. For education policymakers in Namibia, the proverbial rainy day has arrived: it is an open secret that the system is not delivering the desired results, the question remains who is to blame-learners or teachers?”

The question has been heavily debated year in year out while pass rates for this year were below target.

The unions have come to the rescue of teachers stating that they were overworked.

Last year, this publication reported that the education ministry had creamed off 79% of its budget allocation towards the payment of teachers’ salaries and allowances.

Yet Hanse-Himarwa still maintained that there remained a need to recruit more teachers due to an “increase in the learner enrolment numbers as well as curriculum changes.”

She went as far as to ask for “leniency” in the recruitment of teaching staff and her request came at a time when the finance minster, Calle Schlettwein was considering freezing the wage bill in line with consolidating the budget.

Kelvin Chiringa

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