OSHANA has joined others as one of the top three and best performing educational regions in the country during 2012 Grade 10 Junior Secondary Certificate (JSC) final examination results.
It has not only moved one but three places up from fifth in 2011 to third best-region in 2012. Ohangwena has shown some glimpse of hope but it remains in the shadow of the so-called four 'O' regions.
A number of reasons led to this upsurge of Oshana region. Firstly, teachers' conferences were held throughout the region to help teachers improve classroom practices. Educators were also encouraged to have sound relationships with parents because they are the children's first teachers and, therefore, they need to be involved in their children's educational goals.
Secondly, educators were encouraged to do routine team teaching. This has greatly improved the quality of teaching as various experts approach the same topic from different angles. Their strengths were combined and feebleness assuaged. Poor teachers were observed, critiqued and improved by the other members in a supportive context.
Thirdly, camping during examinations for non-boarding rural schools. The region provided them with tents and supplementary food to make sure that learners stayed focussed and studied harder for their examination without interferences. Many learners were no longer travelling long distances to and from schools and they were relieved from their household chores such as fetching water, cooking or pounding omahangu.
Fourthly, vacation classes or symposiums were held during the August/September holiday aimed at engaging scholars with various learning problems in English, Mathematics, Geography and Physical Science.
One can surely foresee that Oshana under the leadership of Dutte Shinyemba (Regional Director) has teamed up to excel by spreading responsibilities, encouraging creativity, deepening friendship and building community among teachers and, thus, was eventually rewarded with encouraging Grade 10 (JSC) academic performance.
There are a number of reasons that may affect the constant rise of Oshana region, though. Firstly, to go up means you have to remain up or continue to rise. The pressure is on the region's educators to continue to be agents of change and deliver, deliver and deliver again.
Secondly, the scramble for Oshana teachers by other regions. Oshana continues to lose human resources as regional educators search for greener pastures. Oshana creates very few promotional posts and even these often filled with professional people from outside the region. Good teachers are lost in this case and their replacements often lack experience or may be under-qualified.
Thirdly, overcrowding. There are still some schools in the region accommodating between 38 and 40 pupils per classroom. This may lead to lack of concentration and excessive noise because all 40 students are talking at the same time. Learners are also negatively affected by the constant intervention of personal space and feelings of being overcrowded may contribute to lack of focus and eventually less learning may take place.
Fourthly, giving and taking away of incentives. Most schools were given a bush allowance, which was eventually removed without notice. This demoralised many teachers.
Fifthly, arrogant, rigid and autocratic principals. Staff do not feel valued and protected. Principals need to encourage a conducive environment. If the environment is not sound, the chance of no or little education to happen is very high. People go where leaders go and want to work in favourable conditions.
I strongly believe that the region make a mammoth difference for many struggling students and educators out there, as well as for those who are doing relatively well, but are looking for some key strategies that can take them to the next level of academic attainment and keep them there.
This can only be done through proper planning, hard work, team work and dedication. And come the end of 2013, who knows, Oshana may even scoop silver or gold.
Rise Oshana Rise!