18 January 2013

Namibia: Grade Ten Failures in Suspense

Oshakati — While admissions for Grades 1, 8 and 11 are expected to be completed by the end of this week, Grade 10 repeaters aged 17 and above are still to hear about their prospects for school placement.

The move to have learners over the age of 17 readmitted in formal schools depends on a ministerial directive, which is yet to be issued. In the absence of such a directive, older learners will be expected to enroll with the Namibian College of Open Learning (Namcol). This is according to various regional educational directors this newspaper spoke to this week.

Among the north central regions, only the education authorities in the Omusati Region indicated that they are willing to readmit Grade 10 failures in the absence of the ministerial directive. However, preference will be given to the placement of repeaters who are 16 years old and younger.

"We are going to allow them to repeat, but in the event that we do not have enough space, the age preference will apply. But we have enough space for all our learners, because our pass rate was high," said Omusati Regional Director Anna Nghipondoka.

Nghipondoka advises schools to readmit their own repeaters, since each school knows their weaknesses and strengths.

In the Omusati Region 4 958 learners sat for the Grade 10 examinations, while 1 774 of them failed to make the next grade. Moreover, Omusati which was the country's second best overall performing region also had the most improved pass rate among repeaters in 2012.

The overall pass rate in the Omusati Region was 63.8 percent. The Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto regions are however only willing to readmit the older repeaters, if the ministry approves. The other regions have indicated that they will only readmit repeaters under the age of 17.

The Ohangwena Region is also one of the regions that posted an impressive pass rate among repeaters, who failed Grade 10 in 2011. The pass rate for repeaters was 72 percent. "But it is not all about improvement and ranking. It is about passing a child as an individual," said Ohangwena Regional Education Director Sanet Steenkamp.

The Ohangwena Region had the highest number of candidates who sat for the Grade 10 examinations last year. Ranked number five in the country's Grade 10 performance ranking, only 48.14 percent of the 5 297 learners who wrote the Grade 10 examinations were promoted to Grade 11, while 2 550 failed to score the required 23 points to pass.

All four north-central regions are however encouraging learners who only obtained between 19 and 22 points to consider improving their subjects through Namcol. "Repeating through formal education means forfeiting the points that the child has obtained the previous year. That is why we advise the children that were close to passing to consider going to Namcol and to take up fewer subjects," said Nghipondoka.

Oshikoto Education Regional Director Lamek Kafidion said apart from advising repeaters to improve their scores through Namcol, the region has also taken the initiative to advise learners who failed Grade 10 to consider studying at vocational training centres. That, however, will depend on the age of the learners, according to Kafidi. The Oshikoto Region is the country's top performing region in the Grade 10 examinations, with a 67.2 percent pass rate, followed by the Omusati and Oshana regions, which are in second and third position respectively.

The regional directors encouraged all parents and guardians of all school-going children to stay in constant contact with their children, teachers and school principals. They also urged learners to maintain good discipline and the right attitude.

"Learners should be disciplined and have the right attitude and refrain from drugs and alcohol abuse, especially the schools in towns where bad influences are to be found everywhere," said Oshana Regional Education Director Dute Shinyemba.

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