28 Jul 2015 17:40pm
WINDHOEK, 28 JUL (NAMPA) While pre-primary education is free in Namibia, there is still a huge number of children in the country who are not in school.
Drop-out and repetition rates are also high, while failure rates are intolerable, Chief of Education at the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), Gerrit Maritz said during a consultation meeting on the review of the Education Act 16 of 2001, which kicked off in the Khomas Region on Tuesday.
Maritz said although Namibia has made great strides in ensuring access to quality education, the country is still burdened by inequality and faces huge challenges in terms of keeping children in school; providing education to the most vulnerable such as children with disabilities; addressing teenage pregnancies; meaningful parental involvement; and ensuring quality outcomes.
Child poverty strikes at a high 34 per cent with one in three children stunted, while 13 per cent of primary school-aged children are out of school. There are high repetition rates and an increasing dropout rate in secondary schools; lack of qualified teachers, especially in the most critical subjects including mother tongue education; and distressing levels of socially tolerated family violence and child abuse, Maritz said.
He said the review of the Education Act will address all the challenges faced by the education sector with a view towards strengthening education delivery mechanisms; improving the quality of educational services and enhancing access; and retention, completion and achievement of learners in all schools across the country, with special attention being given to the most vulnerable and children from a low socio-economic background.
Maritz went on to say Unicef will continue to support the government and its partners to increase access and improve learning outcomes through innovations, such as integrated early childhood development, mother tongue centred education and teacher capacity development with a view toward improving overall results.
The new Act will ensure inclusivity, equitable access, participation and equity in education towards quality teaching and learning in Namibia.
The old Act is superseded by development and needs amendment to allow for future inclusiveness such as including people with disabilities, amongst others.
The new draft will also include the integration of pre-vocational subjects in senior primary schools and further to the Vocational Training Centres (VTC) and universities.
A meeting was held in Katutura on Tuesday to mark the commencement of consultations.
The consultations will be rolled out to all 14 regions and are expected to take place until the end of August this year.