The Deputy Minister of Education, Dr David Namwandi said the small labour market should shoulder the blame for the high unemployment rate not the quality of the education in the country.
Namwandi was responding to the generally held view that the country’s education system is not responsive to the needs of the employment market in a recent interview with The Villager.
“Our economy is so small that even if the courses are designed to be demand-driven, the market is too small.
“Government and the private sector need to expand the economy in order to create employment. It is important to understand that education is not one-sided,” the deputy minister said.
He did, however, not dispel the fact that courses offered at institutions of higher and further learning should conform to the skills needed in the job market.
Namwandi noted that it is important that training institutions, including vocational institutions develop and mould subjects that are demand-driven.
“The most important thing to do for training institutions is to develop and mould subjects that are demand-driven. If not, there will neither be any sustainable education nor will there be any future, for sure,” he strongly urged.
The dean of the Education Faculty at the University of Namibia (Unam), Dr Chairmaine Villet argued that the shortcomings of the education system cannot be overlooked.
“There are a number of areas in which the country’s current education system fails to address the educational needs of its young people. Equity is critical. Namibians from all walks of life should take a clear stand that it is unacceptable that so many of our children - over 60% - drop out of school with virtually no skills that would make them eventually employable,” Villet said.
“We must demand that all our young people be well-educated, not just some of them. And for that, all citizens must work together to improve the lot of all our young people in all schools.
"Whether we choose to introduce technical, vocational or a more academic education, it must be done well. We must put our money where our mouths are,” she urged.
Villet further said that there is a serious need for Namibians to develop a personal reading habit to be able to write clear and organised texts and to have knowledge of the world through both written and visual materials.
This, she argued, would make them globally literate, which would ensure that they become employable virtually anywhere.
“We must seriously re-examine the quality and the substance of what our children learn in schools. Their education must orient them towards a productive future.
"We must never underestimate the number of our children who could become highly educated. The use of contemporary technology must become a routine in our schools. Schools must be places where our children reach to the front edges of technology, rather than places they slowly catch up with changes that are already embedded in our society,” she advised.
She said it is very important that Namibian youth has a global perception of how things work because it would connect them to our neighbouring countries and the global society at large; their future lives depend on it.
Villet added that the possibilities of a multicultural experience will become essential for personal and societal health of the young people.
This, she said, could be accomplished by examining the current teaching force and to ensure that it possesses the necessary capacity, skills and attitude as well as the mindsets to help learners become sustainably educated.