Things will stay the same

04 January 2019 | Columns

The long-awaited new curriculum for the NSSCO students in Namibia will be implemented this year.

The grade 10s of 2019 will be the first to follow the two-year study plan and can attend university if they are not interested in following the Namibia Secondary School Certificate Advanced Subsidiary. In a frank interview with Namibian Sun, Nust's vice-chancellor, Dr Tjama Tjivikua, said he did not expect much to change.

We stand with him.

Of concern is the quality of teaching. Physics and chemistry are now separate subjects and maths can only be taken on the extended and no longer the core level.

Textbooks for the new study plans have been ordered but not yet delivered.

Regarding the dismal performance of the 2018 grade 10s, Tjivikua said, “The picture is no different to that which we are used to. It is a nightmare and every year it is the same. There is no marked improvement in the output.”

He is correct that both English and maths remain the primary challenge for our learners. This is an inherent flaw in the system which starts at primary school level.

Teachers themselves are not fluent in English as a home or first language and mathematics is, just well, mathematics. A high level of skill is needed to teach and pass the subject and, not all children are born with an understanding of calculus, algebra and geometry.

As Tjivikua said: “We are not necessarily going to get more or better students.”

While we understand the necessity of creating an opportunity for local learners to study internationally, we do not see that the critical foundations have been laid in this regard to truly bring about a change in the pass rate for both ordinary and advanced learners.

In fact, if predictions by those in the know hold, we will see maths being the major stumbling block for our pass rates and a shortage of knowledgeable teachers the other.

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