By now the nation ought to know the RDP stand point regarding the education system in Namibia. In the election manifestos, 2009 and 2014, RDP advocated free primary and secondary education and the reduction of teacher-learner ratio to 1:25 in order to make education responsive, effective and qualitative. The RDP manifesto on education is based on research that the minimum funding per learner should be N$1,200 (2014). The prioritization of education and other critical sectors should not be generalized but should be based on research and feasibility studies being carried out to establish cost implications and adjust budget allocations accordingly.
It is apparent that Swapo Party’s preoccupation with political power has led to spontaneous introduction of free primary and secondary education without proper consideration, research and feasibility studies. This was confirmed by the Minister of Education, Art and Culture, when she was asked by the RDP representatives in the Parliament in February 2016. Obviously, this political move has compromised the quality of education and is therefore detrimental to the future educational needs of our children. In fact parents across the country were duped to believe that the education of their children will be free and qualitative such that they felt relieved from continuously digging deeper into their already depleted pockets. Indeed, it is ironic that the current ruling party exploits the genuine aspirations of the nation, such as education, as political tools to trick the Namibian electorates to continuously return it to power.
It is no surprise therefore that one year after the pronouncement of free secondary education in Namibia in 2016, we are already faced with drastic budget cuts from the already paltry N$500 to a mere N$250 per pupil. Moreover, the government has reduced the funding for textbooks, stationeries and teaching aids. The resultant 1:4 textbook-learner ratio translates into four (4) school children or pupils sharing one book. As if that is not enough, the safety and security of educational infrastructures is in a serious jeopardy particularly now that government has decided to terminate the services of security guards. These guards have mouths to feed. What an embarrassment!
If the ruling party believes that education is the key to the prosperous future, how will they consciously justify ill-planning and underfunding of the Namibian primary and secondary education and still hope to help this nation to advance and achieve Vision 2030 as promised?
As a pillar of development, education and other critical sectors that deal with the basic needs of our society; food security, shelter (housing security) and health and safety should be spared at all cost from budget cuts. Instead, this government is deliberately avoiding budget cuts on non-essential sectors like allocation 027/7 whereby scarce funds are splashed out on the so called “Others”, which is simply a hidden vehicle created across most ministries to the tune of over N$1.4 Billion. Other candidates for budget cuts are the bloated Parliament, the over-sized Cabinet, the extended foreign and local trips and continuous commemorations and their associated pompous delegations, and the oversupply of advisors.
Vision 2030 envisages a prosperous Namibia, developed by her own people, enjoying peace and stability. If V2030 is equated to the construction of a house in phases (national development plans – NDP1 through NDP5, etc.), then such a house must be built on a firm and strong foundation. However, the way the Swapo Party-led government is handling education is contrary to what it takes to build such foundation.
It is through education that today’s advanced and progressive countries were able to appreciate and achieve economic, industrial, scientific and cultural accomplishments. The culture of playing political tricks with the education system in Namibia will make our people lag behind other communities and nations. This state of affairs should not be tolerated any longer by all patriotic Namibians, and the RDP is appealing to all patriotic Namibians to reject all attempts geared to stunt development.
Together, We Can Do Better!
Mike RK Kavekotora