11 January 2018

Namibia: I Cannot 'Reckon' Alone

EDUCATION minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said regions, schools, teachers and parents would soon be expected to account for the Grade 10 and Grade 12 learners' poor performances in national examinations.

The minister made the remarks yesterday during the announcement of the 2017 Grade 12 ordinary level results that are below the national target of 40%.

The minister said since this is a year of reckoning, according to President Hage Geingob's proclamation, regions, schools and teachers whose pupils performed poorly will have to account for the failure.

"I cannot reckon alone as the minister of education, whereas some school teachers are coming back every year just to produce ungraded entries year in and year out.

"So, 2018's reckoning is for every single teacher responsible for children's education. Not only for secondary level, but Grade 1 teachers must also reckon," she stated.

She added that poor-performing schools and teachers would be assisted to overcome the problems they are facing to improve the level and quality of education at their centres.

If the schools did not improve after the assistance, disciplinary action would be taken against those responsible.

"This thing of failing learners and coming back to do the same thing every year must come to an end. This thing of sending children who cannot read and do basic mathematics to the next grade must come to an end," Hanse-Himarwa added.

"From the Grade Zero to the Grade 12 teacher, we are gonna be reckoning. You cannot be producing ungraded entries throughout in the subject that you are offering, and come back relaxed, just to do the same thing again. We will not allow you," she stressed.

The minister also encouraged the learners and teachers to work towards achieving quality teaching and learning outcomes.

Individual subject teachers, stakeholders and regional education directorates should come up with collaborative initiatives "to facilitate improvements" in the results, she observed.

"It is high time that we start moving away from this mediocrity, low performance, laziness and visionless approach, and start to look at ourselves, our leadership, and contribution towards regional performances," Hanse-Himarwa said.

Although she felt that the 2017 results were more than satisfactory, some regions were still not doing well, and "in fact pulling down the national performance".

More than 56 000 candidates - about 22 000 full-time and 34 000 part-time - sat for the 2017 Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC) examinations.

About 1 400 full-time candidates were not graded, and more than 6 000 who were part-time were also not graded.

At the full-time level, only 39,3% (8 632) of the 22 091 candidates who enrolled for 2017 qualified to enter institutions of higher learning.

The national target for candidates who qualify for admission at an institution of higher learning was at 45% in 2016. This year, Hanse-Himarwa said the target was set at 40%, as indicated in the fifth National Development Plan.

Eighty one percent of the 34 214 registered candidates for part-time studies were graded, according to subject entries.

This is an increase of 2,6% from the 78,5% recorded in the previous year.

Most of the compulsory subjects did not reach their national targets. This includes English, which recorded about 29% of the 30% national target.

Mathematics, physical science, biology and agriculture also could not reach the targets set nationally.

The ministry had now taken a deliberate decision to dissect the performance of subjects per region to pave the way for interventions to transfer knowledge and skills to poor-performing schools and regions.

This, Hanse-Himarwa said, will be done through research on the poor performances, as well as by "pooling expertise at a national and regional level for an amicable solution on challenges that we are faced with".

Hanse-Himarwa said the results indicated that more still needed to be done to enhance teaching and learning, and elevate the learning outcomes to the desired levels.

The minister added that her ministry was worried by the increase in part-time figures as it puts "more pressure and a burden on the administrative control and coordination of the national examinations".

Individual statements of results will be available at schools as from today, 11 January. The results will also be displayed at regional education directorate offices.

With regards to remarking, the minister said candidates have until 19 January to apply for remarking after which no applications will be entertained.

In addition, the minister urged regional officers not to wait for bulk applications, but to send through the applications for remarking to the directorate of national examinations and assessment as they come in, to avoid delays.

"This is in an effort to make sure that no candidate is disadvantaged when applying for university admission," Hanse-Himarwa said.

The NSSC certificates will be available for collection as from mid-April this year, and learners are advised to collect their certificates from the centres where they sat for their exams.

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