25 January 2013

Namibia: One Child, One Textbook - Iyambo

Photo: Alexandre Dulaunoy/Flickr
Knowledge is power.

Windhoek — The Ministry of Education has pledged that by the end of this year no Namibian child will be sharing a textbook anymore.

Currently the average ratio for the use of textbooks at primary schools is one textbook per three learners (1:3) and at secondary school level the ratio is one textbook per two learners (1:2).

Dr Abraham Iyambo, the Minister of Education yesterday announced that some schools in the Oshana, Oshikoto and Omaheke regions have already achieved the target of one textbook per learner. "Coming from a situation where the ratio was one textbook per six learners and even one textbook per 20 learners or in worst case scenarios - one textbook for an entire class, this is progress," the Minister said.

He made the announcement during procurement of textbooks by the ministry jointly with its partners - the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP), the Millennium Challenge Account - Namibia (MCA-Namibia), who jointly committed over N$137 million to purchase 1.7 million textbooks. Over 990 000 textbooks have already been delivered in the country. "This means 57.4 percent of the ordered textbooks are already in schools," Iyambo said.

The procurement process started in April last year, when schools did their inventories, which were audited since the beginning of June last year by the inspectors of education.

The textbook policy calls for proper utilisation by teachers; proper use by learners and also proper textbook management by school managers. "This massive investment made by the ministry of education and its partners should be treasured. Textbook needs were identified by all the regions in July 2012 to be provided from three sources of funding, namely the regional budget, MCA-N and ETSIP general education funds," he said.

Regional funds covered all the subjects as per the needs identified from pre-primary up to Grade 12. Iyambo appealed to all agencies in the supply chain to speed up the process of delivering the textbooks to schools to meet the due date of February 20, 2013 to conclude all deliveries at all schools.

"It is imperative that we meet the deadline so that learners have the best possible opportunities to learn, study and progress," he urged. He extended his call to the publishers who have to obtain the books from the printers, but also to the distributors who have to buy the textbooks from the publishers and then pack and dispatch them to the schools before the due date.

"Please do not fail to deliver and honour your undertakings," he said. The provision of textbooks is continuous and is an annual process, and the education minister appealed to all schools to provide swift and correct feedback to their inspectors of education regarding the textbook orders delivered or outstanding. A batch of 94 000 textbooks is currently in transit to schools.

Iyambo said if a child loses a textbook he or she should pay for it, but urged schools not to withhold their school reports - instead they should look for other methods to ensure that the book is replaced. He confirmed that funds allocated for implementation of Universal Primary Education have already been disbursed to the regions proportionally to the number of learners in the primary school phase. "It is imperative that these funds are used immediately. No Namibian child should sit in a classroom without a pencil, exercise book or eraser. I direct regional education directors and inspectors of education to speed up the process," he added.

He also directed all directors of education to immediately procure stationery from their regional budgets for primary schools. He said disbursed funds are not meant exclusively for stationery, but are meant to enable schools to provide quality education.

Penny Akwenye, Chief Executive Officer of the MCA-N said the organisation has committed itself to improve access to, as well as the management of textbooks by providing capacity-building from national to school level to manage and store textbooks effectively, thereby extending their lifespan.

The MCA-N, which is expected to finalise its programmes in September 2014 undertook to procure and deliver to Namibian schools three tranches of textbooks for Grades 5 to 12. To date, about 700 000 textbooks for Mathematics, Science and English were delivered to schools in 2010 covering Grades 5 to 12.

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