The year 2014 started off on a good note with an overwhelming eagerness from the public to get engaged in whatever action would make the year successful. This week's coinciding of the commencement of the school calendar, the release of the Grade 12 national senior secondary results and the voter registration process, all on the same day, resuscitated all of Namibia's populace back to reality that the festive season has indeed ended and work for the new year has begun.
It is thus worth mentioning that one of the priorities for this year should include schools reaching their performance targets. The comments by the trade union, the Namibia National Teachers' Union, for the need to redouble efforts to avoid slipping down the performance indicators should not be brushed aside. Of the 19 501 candidates who sat for full-time examinations, only a mere 7 500 qualify for tertiary education. In total, of the 42 861 full-time and part-time learners who completed their secondary schooling, only 10 800 learners qualified for university entrance. Understandably part-time candidates build up subject credits over a number of years and normally meet university admission requirements only after a number of examinations.
However, it is still a large number of learners spending too much time in one grade, Grade 12, before they are ready for tertiary education. Indeed, what future are they supposed to make for themselves, and at what age and cost to the economy that is deprived of young people not ready for tertiary education or training because they are yet to grasp the final basic principles of secondary education?
In spite of the fact that education receives the lion's share of the national budget among the 21 ministries of government, the results are still not what is expected as there are just too many learners not qualifying for university enrollment.
For the 2013/14 financial year, the national total budget allocated to the Ministry of Education alone stood at N$10.7 billion, making it the largest chunk allocated followed by Health and Social Services which received over N$5 billion.
Year to year, once the grades 10 and 12 national examination results are announced, the education ministry always calls on stakeholders to go back to the drawing board in order to improve results.
Thus it is perhaps time for everyone to assess whether the targets and goals set at the last education indaba are being followed. To assess where the system, parents, teachers, guardians, learners and the society as a whole have lagged to an extent that the results indicate a stagnation, if not a decrease, in some instances from the 2012 peformance.
It is time society looks at best peforming schools in the country to learn whatever formula is working well. The schools that slipped down the perofmance indicators should look at activities that led to their previous better performance, and vow to go back to those practices.
St Boniface College, which has been on top for the past years - being a private school has nothing to do with its performance - highlighted the extra teaching hours as part of its winning recipe. The school principal, Mary Phyllis Yesudasan, advises that teachers should give extra lessons, saying at her school "they don't sleep without finishing what they started". Let us hope this year the teachers, parents, and learners will aim at much better Grade 12 results.