Windhoek — The election manifesto of Swanu of Namibia says if elected into power the party will eliminate all student debt and transform the current system into a formidable agency that administers free scholarships equitably.
The 14-page manifesto was launched yesterday by Swanu president Tangeni Iijambo.
The document talks about Swanu formation; Swanu identity; economic downturn; education; land question; health; climate change; crime prevention; genocide recognition and genocide remembrance day.
Recently, the Namibia National Student Organisation strongly dismissed the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF)'s decision to rule out the possibility of converting the loans it awards students into grants.
This means NSFAF has to recuperate monies it paid to students upon completion of their studies.
In 2015, President Hage Geingob suggested the government move away from the study loan system, saying it should instead be converted into a system of grants.
This, the president said, would enable students to immediately build up wealth portfolios instead of graduating into debt upon completing their studies.
Iijambo said Namibia's tertiary education institutions do not play a meaningful role in research and development.
"On the whole, research institutions are underfunded. Needless to say, the government does not have the capacity to develop a standardised curriculum that imparts teachers with relevant and quality teaching skills and to implement the desired education programmes," Iijambo said.
He said Swanu will improve the quality, content and substance of teacher training by requiring teachers to be grounded by obtaining a diploma or degree in their area of specialisation, before embarking on professional teaching qualifications.
Swanu also promised to ensure that all technical vocational education and training graduates from cooperatives be absorbed. This initiative, he says, will be funded and provide incubation opportunities for the graduates.
According to him, this would reduce youth unemployment and enhance the development of small and medium enterprises.
Swanu also vowed to re-introduce polytechnic institutions with the mandate to produce diploma graduates and entrust the production of degree programmes to universities.
Further, he said Swanu will ensure that the distorted Namibian political history for Grade 10 is revised and will introduce subjects in schools that will help learners become technologically savvy and sharpen their curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving aptitudes.
The party also promised to establish and provide free access to after-school centres and encourage adult-learning and life-long learning.
"There is a huge deficit in quality technical skills in the labour market, as well as a poor reading culture in Namibia, which stifles economic opportunities for many young Namibians. This is compounded by the high failure rates in secondary schools and the fact that the majority of learners do not meet the requisite entry points for tertiary education," he noted. For unemployed graduates, Swanu promised to promote an aggressive investment policy in research and development and also vowed to increase funding for a functional and well-resourced national research council with strong links to higher education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET).
Swanu further says that early childhood education is severely underfunded in Namibia with virtually no facilities, no qualified teachers and no proper nutrition for the urban poor and marginalised as well as in rural communities.
To remedy this situation, he promised that Swanu undertakes to invest in early childhood development and provide training to caregivers and parents, as well as offer remuneration to teachers in this area.