No place for English failures

12 January 2018 | Education

The results of the part-time Grade 12 Namibian College of Open Learning (Namcol) students do not bode well for future study.

A meagre 10% of the institution's students managed to pass English as a second language, leaving 18 000 students that must repeat the subject if they are to advance in their studies.

If the 12 000 full-time students who also need to repeat English as a second language are added, this brings the total to a whopping 30 000 students who now have nowhere to register save vocational training centres.

To further compound matters, 12 000 students will be left out in the cold as Namcol can only accommodate 18 000 new English learners for the year.

This was revealed yesterday when Namcol announced its results for the 2017 Grade 10 and 12 exams.

According to Namcol director Heroldt Murangi, English second language remains a challenge for learners and out of the 20 333 Grade 12 learners who enrolled for the subject, only 10% managed to score a D Grade and above.

More than 2 000 learners, or 10% of the candidates, scored an incomplete in English second language.

“By reflecting on the results for English second language, it appears that more than 12 000 full-time and over 18 000 part-time candidates found it difficult to score the required D grade and above, generally required for admission into institutions of higher learning,” said Murangi.





According to him, this means that a large number of these learners will seek entry to Namcol for the 2018 academic year to improve their English results.

Therefore, more than 30 000 learners might need entry to Namcol while the college can only accommodate 18 000 this year, said Murangi.

“English remains a concern and we are getting the blame for the mistakes of others. If the formal education system fails, learners will not be able to read and write and that is why we are sitting with this problem.”

A total of 41 225 Grade 10 and 12 part-time learners were enrolled at Namcol last year.

According to Murangi, the total enrolment of part-time learners for the Grade 10 examination stood at 12 733, of whom 12 044 were enrolled with Namcol, while 29 181 out of the 34 214 Grade 12 candidates were enrolled at Namcol. The learner population for both Grades 10 and 12 at Namcol represents 95% of all part-time candidates, said Murangi.

“This is a testimony that Namcol is and remains the largest open and distance learning institution in the country. The college remains an active player in the provision of general education in Namibia.”

He added that there are many people who have been calling for the institution to be closed. “However, you cannot close an institution that is serving the educational needs of more than 41 000 learners. Namcol is here to stay.”

According to him, the performance of the Grade 10 learners in 2017 improved compared to that of 2016. Grade 10 learners performed better at grades A, B, F and G while a lower performance was recorded at the intermediate grades of C and E.

Murangi said it was concerning that there was a decline in grades C and D while an increase was recorded in ungraded entries from 6.8% in 2016 to 10.8% in 2017

“If ungraded entries are going up this is a concern.”

According to him, another concern was that learners did not sit for 4 398 (15.5%) subject entries in the 2017 examination.

As for Grade 12 learners there was an improved performance in all Grade ranges (A* to G) when compared to the 2016 results.

According to Murangi, there was a quite significant increase in graded entries from 78.5% in 2016 to 81.1% in 2017. This means that there was a decrease of 2.6% in ungraded entries.

“It is worth noting our candidates performed well in the Namibian home languages as they scored beyond 50% for D Grade and above.”

However over 10 000 subject entries for Grade 12 were recorded as incomplete.

“Of course this could be due to various reasons such as learners finding employment elsewhere, learners registering as a means of social benefits that includes pension fund and learners participating in medical aid schemes of their parents.”

Murangi said this trend affects the institution's results negatively and therefore Namcol commissioned a study to establish the reasons for learner dropouts.

Namcol plans to engage institutions such as the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) and medical aid schemes to share ideas on how to close the loophole that currently exists.

ELLANIE SMIT