New school curriculum under fire

September 16, 2014, 8:53am

New school curriculum under fire

The Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) has raised serious concerns about the implementation of the new education curriculum at junior primary level - set for next year - including around the training of teachers and the late arrival of syllabi and textbooks at schools.
Union president Mahongora Kavihuhua told Namibian Sun that the syllabi for the revised curriculum have not been sent to schools yet. He also expressed concerns about the shortage of teachers.
“What are they going to teach? A syllabus is the Bible of teachers. This is not yet out to the schools. Are the teachers going to use the old syllabi for the new curriculum?” asked Kavihuhua.
With only a few months left before the implementation of the revised curriculum, Kavihuhua said teachers don’t know what is expected of them.
“All they know is the curriculum will change next year, but what this entails and their understanding of what is expected from them is zero,” said Kavihuhua.

Training

National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) Director Dr Hertha Pomuti told Namibian Sun the implementation of the revised curriculum will be done systematically to deal with the complexities involved.
She said the junior primary syllabus, which will be implemented next year, is already approved and will be sent to schools in November.
Pomuti said the training of the trainers was held in June.
The training material will be sent to trainers during the first week of October and they will train teachers at junior primary level in all the regions from November 24 to December 9.
“The two weeks training was decided upon not to disturb school activities. The ministry finds it inappropriate to pull teachers from the school and interrupt school activities,” Pomuti said.
Asked if TUN can be part of the training, Pomuti said if the union members are teachers at lower primary level, they will be part of the training together with other teachers.
Pomuti said the ministry will procure the textbooks and send them to schools by first week of January next year.
She called on all stakeholders to support the implementation of the revised curriculum and invited unions to contact the institute if they have any queries.
She said consultations were done with countries such as Finland, Germany, Britain, Mauritius, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Pomuti said the success of the curriculum is based on discipline and the teachers involved, and not the curriculum alone.
She called on parents to assist in instilling discipline in their children.
Stages
The Minister of Education David Namwandi announced that the implementation of the revised curriculum will begin next year, starting with junior primary phase, followed by the senior primary phase in 2016. As from 2017 the implementation of the revised curriculum will be implemented in stages from Grade 8 in 2017 to Grade 13 (A level) 2020.
Namwandi said that N$21.7 million has been budgeted for the 2015/2016 financial year.
Commenting on the two-week training period prior to implementation of the new curriculum, Kavihuhua said: “Two weeks is the joke of the day, because teachers are expected to be given working tools for the curriculum.”
He questioned the logic behind conducting the training in the last two weeks of the initiation programme and argued that the orientation for the syllabi cannot be done in two weeks.
“They are talking about new subjects for which there aren’t adequate qualified teachers and the re-allocation of time in terms of content to cover what will definitely influence the re-arrangement of timetables at schools,” he said.
Kavihuhua said there is no baseline study that shows how many teachers are required, especially in the new subjects, as well as the old ones.
“This new curriculum is full of uncertainty. To say something on paper is completely different than to put it in practice.”
He said the budget for implementation is usually determined by studies.
According to Kavihuhua, no study was conducted to show how many teachers and facilitates are required for the implementation of the new curriculum.

Readiness
He also questioned whether the textbooks will be ready next year, considering there are still schools with no textbooks during the current academic year.
“Teachers in Namibia don’t want to be the passive recipients of policies and instructions. We want to be active participants in the crafting, development and implementation of policies. As a union we are going to write a letter to the permanent secretary requesting whether the leadership of TUN - starting from me - can be part of the training, so that we equally understand what is happening,” he said.

By Selma Ikela Namibian Sun