Namibia: National Conference to Unpack Education Barriers

2 August 2022

The education ministry and its stakeholders are gathering to review the resolutions and directives of the 2011 national conference on education along with resolutions from the regional consultations in 2022.

The main objective of the national conference on education is to deliberate on the education system with regard to a number of transformative programmes, and take stock of progress made in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The delegates are expected to review the recommendations of the 2011 national conference on education and to provide an opportunity for Namibia to recommit and rededicate efforts to improve financing for education and to ensure that all children are in school, and remain in school.

This forms part of the specific objectives outlined to be discussed during the four-day national conference of education under the theme 'transforming education, arts, and culture in the context of global challenges to enhance access to inclusive quality education: re-imagining 2022 and beyond'.

The conference starts today and ends on 5 August 2022.

Education executive director Sanet Steenkamp said national consultations towards this conference were led by the minister and deputy minister of Education, Arts, and Culture from 31 May until 10 June 2022.

"These engagements established what works well in the education sector and unpacked what the barriers are to providing inclusive, equitable quality education, while teasing out the required interventions, within the short (2023 to 2024) -, medium (2025-2030) - and long term (2030-2035) planning and implementation," she indicated.

Steenkamp said the delegates will also develop a common and shared understanding of what "free education" in the Namibian context means about its rationale, policy interpretation, challenges, and opportunities.

The conference is also committed to the implementation of the five transformative thematic programmes: namely teachers, teaching and the teaching profession; learning and skills for life, work, and sustainable development; digital learning and transformation, and financing of education.

"It is anticipated that the conference will generate achievable recommendations for each transformative thematic area and contributes meaningfully towards improved resource allocation to the basic education sector for keeping the learner at the centre of all delivery of education, arts, and culture, including, the provision of early childhood education," Steenkamp is hopeful.

Furthermore, the conference is expected to provide strategies for digital transformation in the education sector and further strengthen skills development in arts, culture, and adult education.

Overall, Steenkamp said this conference intends to create ownership for the country's position paper to be delivered at the Transformation Education Summit in New York in September 2022.

Everybody is encouraged to participate in this conversation as the conference will be conducted in a hybrid mode, online or virtually, and in person-attendance.

Of particular significance in the journey of reform was the national conference of education from 27 June - 1 July 2011 under the theme of 'collective delivery on the education promise: improving the education system for quality learning outcomes and quality of life'.

The 2011 conference was attended by more than 1000 participants from all regions and international participants.

The conference covered the entire education system: from early childhood development, pre-primary, secondary education, vocational education, and training; to higher education and adult and lifelong learning.

At the time, participants included education experts, traditional leaders, religious leaders, NGOs, learners, students, teachers, and school management teams, including school boards and parent representatives.

Some of the key recommendations made in 2011 include a review of the Education Act, 2001 (Act No 16 of 2001); and the transfer of early childhood development from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare to the Ministry of Education.

Other recommendations included assessing the affordability of the basic education systems, addressing the high learner pregnancy rates and high dropout rates; review the curriculum to respond to the challenges and needs of the Namibian society.

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