Namibia reviews education systems
About 24 691 learners dropped out of school in 2020, and 2 348 learners fell pregnant that year.
Education minister Anna Nghipondoka provided these statistics, based on the Namibia Education Management Information System (Emis).
She added that the National Population Registration System (NPRS) also reported that 65 babies were born to children aged 13 years old in 2020.
Nghipondoka was speaking in Windhoek after her return from the Transforming Education Summit, which took place in New York from 15 to 21 September. She stressed that Covid-19 has exacerbated education challenges, reversing the gains Namibia has made in the education sector.
"This has led to many children dropping out of school, with the girl child becoming pregnant at an early age and high levels of gender-based violence and abuse," the minister said.
A delegation from the education ministry and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef) attended the summit.
Unicef Representative to Namibia, Rachel Odede, said in 2020 about 18% of grade one learners dropped out of school in Namibia.
During the pandemic, half of all countries had to cut their education budgets, further deepening the crisis.
"School closures have deepened pre-existing learning disparities within and among regions of the country due to inequities in access to technology. Unlocking digital learning for all children has the potential to create societies that are both more inclusive and more prosperous."
Bring in stakeholders
Edda Bohn, the deputy executive director for formal education in the ministry, said that their next step is clear: to make sure that their curriculum framework is aligned to the requirements of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the needed technologies to keep learners, graduates, and the workforce, relevant.
Prior to the summit, the ministry conducted a series of national consultations to ascertain progress made since the 2011 National Education Conference and to consolidate recommendations on how the country should transform its education system for the future.
"The national consultations made it clear that for us to have a successful transforming education agenda, we need to put in place well-designed change management approaches that involve teachers who are the decision makers at the classroom level," Sanet Steenkamp, the education ministry's executive director, said.