Beating The Odds: Namcol Students Who Excel

06 Mar 2017 15:50pm
By Linea Dishena

WINDHOEK, 05 MAR (NAMPA) –Very often, people refer to the Namibian College of Open Learning (Namcol) as a “graveyard” for education, but some students who beat all odds, have a different perspective than that of the public.
Nampa caught up with six Namcol students at a prize giving ceremony on 23 February. All professed to be hard working and focused to obtain the results they did.
Four of the students are today pursuing various studies at the University of Namibia (UNAM), Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and the International University of Management (IUM). One is still eking out a living from a casual job, as she was late in applying to a tertiary institution this year.
Twenty-year-old Letisia Kafugula, who comes from the Oshana Region, is a first-year student at UNAM where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Education for upper primary school.
Kafugula matriculated in 2014 at Oshikoto Secondary School with 23 points in five subjects, two points shy of qualifying for university enrolment. In 2015, she enrolled at Namcol to improve two subjects - History and English.
“When I enrolled at Namcol I felt like a failure because that is what most people think of a person that comes to Namcol. But, throughout the year I realised it was actually a great opportunity,” said Kafugula.
Studying at Namcol, she says, requires dedication and hard work. She obtained B-symbols in both subjects. Despite this achievement, she felt her points were not enough, and so she registered at Namcol for Geography and Development Studies. She obtained a B-symbol in Development Studies and D-symbol in Geography. This gave her the 30 points she needed to realise her dream of becoming a teacher.
Bertin Tshaka hails from Zambezi Region, where he completed his matric at the Katima Combined School in 2013 with 21 points but with an E-symbol in English. Immediately after matric he got a job, which delayed his improvement of grades for university points.
In 2015, he realised that education is the key to everything in the world of today, which prompted him to enrol at Namcol.
“I just realised having a qualification is better than anything else, hence I considered Namcol to improve my points and apply for tertiary education one day,” said Tshaka.
At Namcol, he obtained a B-symbol in English, which gave him the 27 points he needed to enrol for a Bachelor of Education at IUM.
Berline Harlons, 26, from the Omaheke Region, matriculated in 2009 with 22 points. She enrolled at a university in South Africa to do a certificate in Travel and Tourism. Upon completion, she job-hunted before getting anything permanent.
“Last year, I decided to improve my results which was worth a try. I decided to improve my English in 2015.”
Harlons obtained a C-symbol in English and in the 2016 examination she improved to a B-symbol. She is now enrolled at a Vocational Training Centre (VTC) and is pursuing studies in office administration.
“I wanted to venture in a different direction from the field which I already started because you are never too old to study,” said Harlons.
Mwatalavi Hengari, 20, is now a student at NUST studying for a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Chemistry and Physics. She matriculated in 2015 at Academia Secondary School with 37 points.
Although science was her field of interest, she was not qualified to enrol at varsity because she had obtained an E–symbol in Biology and Mathematics.
“Namcol is not a bad place because it’s not about where you are studying; it’s about who you are and what you want in life. It’s about how committed you are to your books, because even if the teacher is the best in the country and you are not putting in effort, you won’t pass,” said Hengari.
Mischa Gowases, 28, hails from Hardap Region. She matriculated in 2006 with 24 points and started working as a casual worker immediately after.
In 2016, she improved her English to a B-symbol and Business Studies to a D-symbol.
Gowases, who says her greatest motivation is her daughter, spoke about her plan to study for a Bachelor of Education next year. She hopes to give her daughter the best she can, “because she did not ask to come into this world”. Gowases, an orphan, is passionate about this.
“In life, if you fail the first time you are not a failure. You are only a failure when you stop trying at all,” she said.
Jeanine Hoabes, 18-year-old from Erongo Region failed Grade 10 in 2015 when she obtained 21 points.
She enrolled at Namcol in 2016 to improve her points, after seeing her friends improve their subjects at Namcol and qualify for Grade 11.
Hoabes is now a Grade 11 student at S I Gobs Senior Secondary School after getting 29 points.
“I will study hard in Grade 11 and 12 because I know the feeling of failing,” she said.
Twenty-year old Junior David from Oshana Region is a first-year student at UNAM pursing Bachelor of Accounting. He completed Grade 12 in 2015 with 22 points at Gabriel Taapopi Secondary School. In 2016, he enrolled at Namcol for Biology and Physical Science, and obtained A-symbol in both.
David said, only hard work and determination will help you get the desired points.
“When I was in Grade 12, I played a lot and concentrated less on my school work, which was too late to realise. I felt the pain only after failing, which will not happen again in my years of studies,” said David.
Namcol was established in 1994 with the aim to get at least a 50 per cent pass rate and to contribute to the development of a competent and highly skilled productive human capital in Namibia; something some say they have failed to achieve.
Namcol Director Heroldt Murangi, during a media briefing held on 19 January, said the poor performance of its Grade 12 students in the 2016 national examinations is due to their failure to show up for examinations.
He said the number of subjects entered for but not written in the national examinations for both Grade 10 Junior Secondary Certificate (JSC) and Grade 12 Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC) examinations were high, which resulted in the decline in performance.
In 2016, 11 109 learners registered for the JSC and 27 227 for the NSSC at Namcol.
Of the JSC learners, 93.2 per cent were graded in 2016 compared to 89.6 per cent in 2015.
The NSSC results were poor with 21.5 per cent graded in 2016 after 21.2 per cent in 2015.
Murangi stressed that the public does not take this into account when forming their perception of Namcol as the weakest link in Namibia’s education system.
He urged parents to not only support their children by paying school fees, but to be more involved in their studies because most parents lose hope when a child is at Namcol.
Then, he stressed, is when support and involvement from parents is needed the most for a learner to perform.
Speaking at the Namcol prize giving ceremony on behalf of the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, Director of Planning and Quality Assurance in the ministry, Adelheid /Awases said Namcol should not be blamed for learners’ bad performance when they are the ones not putting in enough effort to succeed.
She said the ceremony was testimony and proof that at Namcol, it is possible to earn good symbols.