1 September 2011

Namibia: Cabinet Embraces Education Recommendations

CABINET on Tuesday this week endorsed all recommendations made at the watershed national education conference held in June and July.

"These are not recommendations anymore; these are now decisions," emphasised Minister of Education Abraham Iyambo yesterday.

Cabinet prioritised a number of immediate action to be taken over the next three years.

It decided that drastic steps should be taken against shebeens, and especially those in close proximity to schools, while the abuse of alcohol by teachers and learners should be addressed.

Cabinet directed that the Education Ministry engage with the Law Reform and Development Commission to indicate which laws should be amended and to suggest clauses to be introduced in existing laws to stop the establishment of shebeens close to schools.

Another immediate matter to be addressed is teenage pregnancies.

It called for the adherence to the Namibian Constitution in terms of free primary education. The constitution stipulates that this level of education should be free, but Minister Iyambo said investigation must first take place to establish what schools charge, and how it impacts on the activities of schools before consideration will be made for the elimination of contributions to the school development fund.

Higher education reform is also on the cards, which include measures to make tertiary education more affordable.

Other issues that will be addressed within the next three years are the issue of automatic promotions, the finalisation of the decentralisation of the Ministerial structures, the expansion of the school feeding programme, the re-arrangement of the capital budget (which currently is less than 10 per cent of the education budget), and the renovation expansion and management of hostels.

The development of teacher accommodation will be addressed by Government while private partnerships in this regard will be sought.

Also to be addressed in the short term is the recruitment of teachers to counteract the current shortage, which considerations to bring back to the force retired and qualified teachers from "friendly countries".

The upgrading of teachers is similarly to be done at national and foreign institutions.

Vocational training centres will be encouraged to generate their own funding by, among other things, availing their skills and services to schools for simple maintenance jobs.

The expansion of vocational training is also an immediate priority.

Iyambo got his wish when Cabinet decided that school hostels should be built in flood-prone areas, while the school calender is to be revisited to provide for a flexible alternative to the current three-term one.

The Ministry of Education is to set up two committees to oversee the implementation of the decisions.

This will include a high-level team chaired by the minister and deputy minister, the Permanent Secretary, as well as organisations such as Nangof, Nantu, Nanso, Unam's vice chancellor, the rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia, and the vice chancellor of the International University of Management (IUM).

The implementing committee will be headed by the Permanent Secretary and the deputy Permanent Secretary, including the heads of all departments within the ministry.

Iyambo said the first task of the two committees is to devise an implementation plan and work out the costs thereof.

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