The Ministry of Education (MoE) has started implementing the resolutions made during the National Conference of Education held in Windhoek about two years ago.
In a report compiled in March this year and released last week MoE has paid attention to eight problems namely management, structure and decentralisation; budgeting, capital development, universal primary education; legislation; early childhood development; primary and secondary education, quality improvement, teacher education, capacity building, curriculum development, assessment and examinations; vocational education and training; higher education and lifelong learning as well as libraries.
Weak, ineffective leadership
One of the biggest stumbling blocks identified at the Conference was lack of programmes implementation and accountability because of weak leadership.
In response, the MoE has consulted broadly in view of addressing teaching and learning, leadership and management, infrastructure, regulatory framework and stakeholder relations.
A National Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MAC) chaired by the Deputy Permanent Secretary with representatives from the education sector has been established to monitor and evaluate management plans with technical assistance provided by the Millennium Challenge Compact.
In addition, various training workshops were conducted between October 2011 and November 2012 in monitoring and evaluation concepts, tools, techniques and methods for programme managers and officers.
The MoE has also received support from the European Union and UNESCO to carry out capacity gaps assessment studies to improve quality of education.
The MoE has also embarked on an organisational restructuring exercise where the head office focuses on policy formulation, planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation while implementation will be done by the Regions and the MoE’s State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
The first phase of a draft organisational structure on horizontal functional analysis done so far covers the overall process of decentralisation; overview of the education and training sector (ETS) and key actors; role of the MoE as a leading authority to coordinate the ETS; role of other actors in the ETS; relations with MoE agencies and SOEs; as well as review of acts shaping the ETS.
Vertically, the draft looks into the roles of actors involved at regional and local levels; stage of the implementation of the decentralisation framework; structures at regional level (regional councils and directorates of education); decentralisation and impact at school level; coordination of non-formal education sub-sectors at regional level; and coordination and monitoring of decentralisation.
Following a Cabinet directive to curb wastage and after an audit in Caprivi, Khomas and Ohangwena where poor human resource management and lack of computerisation led to poor record-keeping, the MoE has installed a computerised human resource system.
“The other nine regions will be audited through a newly adopted method of self-certification to be administered by school inspectors, principals and regional finance staff,” the report says.
Strict treasury instructions such as the signing of a receipt by staff whenever they receive a pay slip, cheque or cash payment will be adhered to as a simple and effective way of checking on ‘ghost teachers’.
“The phenomenon of ‘ghost teachers’ was the result of poor HR records which did not keep accurate records of teachers who had transferred, resigned or retired. The result was that some teachers were counted twice. Actual fraud was minimal,” the report says.
Zero budgeting system and legislation
To improve its budgeting system, the MoE, under the guidance of the Ministry of Finance, established the ‘Zero Budgeting’ system with technical assistance from the EU and the collaboration of regions and with all institutions.
Apart from the recently implemented free education as per the Namibian Constitution in Terms of Universal Primary Education, the Conference’s call for a review of the Education Act of 2001 is being looked into while a consultative meeting has been scheduled for July 2013.
The Liquor Act will be reformed to disallow building of shebeens close to schools while those already there should be destroyed to create a peaceful and less distracting learning environment.
ECD & PPE
A technical committee put in place by the Ministry of Gender, Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW) and MoE has already devised a curriculum for three and four year olds in-line with the existing curriculum for the pre-primary year and the national standards for early childhood development centres that reflect both the aspirations for ECD and the Namibian reality.
In addition, an operational ACESS database which captures rich information on the ECD centres around the country, including among other things: the numbers of children, their age and gender, and any impairments, the number of educarers, their qualifications, gender and age, the facilities in the centre, the programme and policies at the centre, health and sanitation provision at the centre; final draft unit standards for the training of ECD teachers/caregivers leading to a qualification to be on the NQF.
To improve education, MoE has teamed up with regional education offices and the University of Johannesburg on a programme meant to train principals and school board members.
A pilot project to enhance civil society participation in school governance is running in Hardap and Ohangwena with assistance from UNICEF.