What a mess!

14 March 2019 | Columns

Much has been written and said about the new national education curriculum, which has massively impacted learning at many schools countrywide. It must be stated from the outset that we are in agreement with the guiding principles for the curriculum change, more so considering the fact that government wants to make it easier for learners to access technical or vocational training opportunities at an early age.

The importance of this training cannot be overemphasised, as it is critical for economic advancement and implementing value-added processes across various sectors of our economy.

To its credit, the Namibian government has made a resounding commitment, with over N$1.4 billion pledged by the Namibian Training Authority (NTA) for a period of four years to support technical and vocational education and training. This is a serious statement of intent. However, there are serious bottlenecks affecting the successful implementation of this important curriculum.

According to the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), the new curriculum is the biggest change since the introduction of the Cambridge HIGSCE and IGSCE courses in 1994. Government last year abolished external grade 10 examinations, meaning grade 9 learners will now write semi-external exams, while grade 10 forms part of the senior secondary phase. Secondary school is now divided into three phases, the junior secondary phase comprised of grade 8 and 9, the senior secondary phase, comprised of grade 10 and 11, and the grade 12 advanced subsidiary level.

A well-developed school curriculum should serve the purpose of addressing problems within the system, as well improving the way things are done.

This is currently not the case, as poor learners and teachers are now paying the price for poor implementation, which has led to serious concerns such overcrowded classes and learners cohabiting like husband and wife, among other challenges. Government must admit there was no well-thought-out implementation plan and address the challenges head-on. We are running out of time, while the situation on the ground continues to worsen.