Namibian education system killing creativity, individuality

06 January 2021 | Opinion

Dankeni Tjilongo



The Namibian education system is outdated. I mean, we are in the 21st century, but we are still using the system that was started back in the 19th century. Everything else changed. The world has progressed, technology has advanced and life has modernised.

Back in the 19th and 20th century, the industrial revolution began. People were needed as factory workers. That's why they had this education system that trains people to work in factories.

That's why it makes sense to me that we sit in class, in rows nice and neat. Raise your hand when you want to say something. Follow instructions, like "do your homework” or "read chapter 9 and 10". Oh, and tell them what to memorise and remember. Because it’s the same in factories - you stand in rows nice and neat. Your follow instructions. You have no say, but if you want to say something, you request.

There is more evidence that the system is obsolete. You see, here is a car from 150 years ago and here's a car from today, big difference, right? Stay with me.

Here is a phone from 150 years ago and here's a phone from today, big difference, right? But here's the shocking part. Here's a class from 150 years ago and here's a class from today. No difference.

It's a shame that schools claim to prepare pupils for the future. With evidence like that, I must ask: Do you prepare pupils for the future or for the past?

No room for talent

The reason why this system is outdated is that it has little room for gifts, for talent, for practical learning. It has little room for pupils’ passion.

The education system focuses on competition instead of collaboration - pupils have to compete with one another to get an A, but the stakeholders forget that the kids who compete with one another are going to be future colleagues and, at work, collaboration is important because it brings progress.

Some pupils might not be good in theory but good at practical learning. Some kids might not be good at both but might have the talent to mix chemicals and create vaccines.

Our education system has killed a lot of inventors of cars, cell phones and technological advances. Our education system has killed a lot of possible HIV/Aids cure creators. This education system has failed a lot of leaders who had the intellectual capacity to take this country far.

But all these pupils’ dreams have been killed because they were judged by grades; they were told they were stupid. They were labelled as failures, but nobody is a failure. Failure is an event for a certain moment, not a person. Nobody is stupid, but an operating system might be. This education system is a big-time failure to the advancement of Namibia. Actually, this is educational malpractice.

Mental slavery

We are being enslaved mentally by the western, European world. How can Namibia after 30 years of independence be under the education system of Cambridge University, Oxford University and the Roman Catholic Church? Was 30 years not enough to have our own education system? This is actually neo-colonisation. So, these colonisers saw that Africa is on a path to development and they imposed this old, outdated education system on the Africans.

This system is designed to keep us on the level we are. This system is designed to keep us poor. They want Africa to remain poor and they want to run the world affairs, that's why they had to come up with alternative options to keep down.

The solution

While Namibia might not have the money to transform the whole education system, we can take baby steps. First, we should reduce theory to 40% and increase practical learning to 60%. Secondly, we should introduce basic education in primary schools from pre-primary to grade seven, and we should introduce tertiary education from grade eight to 12.

Tertiary education should be able to accommodate every pupil, for example the A student should be accommodated in his field of desire. The B student should also be accommodated in his field of desire. Same with D to F students.

We should do away with school spirit by means of abolishing exams and there should only be one exam that is at the end grade 12.

The exams must be separated into practicals and theory. There should be no competition in the system, but there should be collaboration - there should be programmes that encourage pupils to work together or work in groups.

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