THE Ministry of Education and the University of Namibia (Unam) have received thousands of applications for an education bursary scheme announced in January.
The Namibian understands that around 10 000 prospective students applied for the 650 places available for the four-year teaching degree programme at Unam.
Yesterday some 1 600 people were writing mature-entry exams at the Khomasdal campus and other satellite teacher's training colleges at places such as Katima Mulilo, Rundu and Ongwediva.
The 1 600 candidates will compete for places with other students who have already qualified for a teacher's degree course at Unam.
Candidates who qualify will land one of 650 spots in the programme and a bursary. However, only full-time candidates will be considered.
"The value of the bursaries has not been determined yet," said Romeo Muyunda, public relations officer of the Ministry of Education.
He said the shortage of teachers in the country is one of the reasons the ministry has made the bursaries available. It is an attempt by the ministry to get people interested in becoming teachers. "People have somehow lost interest in the profession," he said.
The teacher shortage has become so serious that the ministry recently invited retired teachers to return to work.
In addition, the Ministry of Education in January advertised bursaries for a teaching degree to address the teacher shortage. The ministry was swamped with thousand of applications suggesting that there are thousand of school leavers out there who will jump at any opportunity to study or work.
Charmaine Villet, head of the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment studies at Unam, told The Namibian that it was unclear how many school leavers below the age of 25 had applied for the bursaries, as they must first register for the education programme.
"Students are still registering, so only by February 6 will all students have registered and only then will we be able to know how many stand a chance to receive a bursary," she said.
"There are two ways of getting into Unam's Faculty of Education. The one way is that aspiring students or teachers must have at least 25 marks and a 'C' in English. The other is through our mature-entry exams. These persons must have at least five years' teaching experience as well as a Grade 10 or 12 certificate. They will also have to pass the test first," Villet added.
She said that applicants - school leavers and mature students alike - would know by next week whether they have made it into the programme.