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200 000 failing students improve at Namcol

Mon, 9 November 2015 15:44
by Tuhafeni Moses

The Namibia College for Open Learning (NAMCOL) has catered for 203 383 grades 10 and 12 failures looking to upgrade their marks between 2010 and 2015, spokesperson Mandume Kaukungua told The Villager this week.

The institution has become a gateway for low-performing pupils to improve symbols in order to continue with their secondary education, or to even enter tertiary-level education.

Namcol has taken grades 10 and 12 failures off the streets, and given them an opportunity to increase their pass marks while offering additional courses such as Automotive Mechanics, Plumbing and Pipefitting, Welding and Metal Fabrication as well as Office Administration as part of its Vocational and Technical offerings.

According to the NAMCOL Tracer Study of Former Learners 2005 – 2010, “a total of 510 (65.8% of the total 775) of respondents applied to one or more higher education institutions, and 370 (47.7%) were accepted. This compares well to the 47.7% who stated that they had enrolled at NAMCOL in order to improve their symbols to gain entrance to higher education.”

Study respondents were also asked to indicate which higher education or training institution they had applied to. Some of the key institutions in Namibia were offered as possible responses, comprising the University of Namibia (UNAM), the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN), the International University of Management (IUM), the Teachers’ Training Colleges, Vocational Training Centres (VTCs) or the National Institute for Mining and Technology (NIMT).

Just over one out of every five respondents had applied to study at UNAM or the Polytechnic of Namibia, and more than half of these applicants had applied for further studies elsewhere, with acceptance rates for these other institutions listed as ranging from 80.3% to 38.7%.

Of the 775 respondents, only 40.3% were employed, while 34.4% were still looking for jobs. 2.3% were not in search of employment away from their home/ farm. The remaining percentage was presumed to be still studying fulltime with NAMCOL or another education/training institution.

Employed learners worked in sectors which ranged from government to non-profit organisations to private companies, to community- based organisations to volunteer work. The government employs the majority of NAMCOL graduates, with 44.9% of those employed there, and the private sector took 41.7%. 4.8% work for non-profit organisations, while 4.8% do volunteer work. The remaining 2.2% are employed in communitybased organisations.

The institution - which is registered as a parastatal and receives funding through the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture - also operates other business units to create additional income for its operations. Kaukungua said like any other academic institution, there are complaints regarding fees.

However, NAMCOL’s fees are relatively low, taking into consideration the services they provide. In 2012, NAMCOL recorded a drop-out rate of 7% for Junior Secondary Certificate (JSC) and 8% for Namibian Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary Level (NSSCO), respectively. NAMCOL is mandated by an Act of Parliament to offer programmes to adults and out-of-school youth. That mandate will be maintained for as long as the Act remains in place.

Last week, they celebrated winning the World Summit Award in the Learning and Science category after entering the competition with the Notesmaster e-learning platform.

“In August this year, NAMCOL decided to enter the competition for the world’s best practices in digital innovation. We then submitted Notesmaster Namibia Open Educational Resources as a project to compete with the other 387 projects submitted from 86 countries worldwide. We were very overjoyed to receive news that Notesmaster Namibia was selected as a winner among 40 winners from 24 countries”, Namcol Director Herold Murangi said.

“I’m equally happy to note that the content is made available to all teachers and learners free of charge. This is a step in the right direction. The digital divide is created partly because access to important resources is denied through exorbitant fees,” Murangi stated.

He added that in many cases, teachers and learners can’t afford to pay the fees charged to access important resources. The creation of Open Educational Resources is one of the innovative ways to assist with bridging the digital divide. In this regard, NAMCOL is a leader in the country, and encourages other educational institutions to follow suit.

“The College has a policy to guide its development of Open Education Resources. This is what distinguishes quality institutions from others, and it is praiseworthy. It informs me that the College is serious about the development of OER, as it is abbreviated,” he noted.

Higher-level subjects will be added at a later stage when the new curriculums are implemented. Most content is available in PDF format for free downloads, and has numerous interactive features such as quizzes, animations, audio-clips and video clips.

As a reward for winning in the Learning and Science category at the 2015 World Summit Awards, Notesmaster Namibia and Open Education Resources will be heading to the World Global Congress in Shenzhen, China in February 2016.