IN the face of a strong public backlash against the failure of 81 percent of Grade 11 learners to proceed to Advanced Subsidiary level, Education Minister Anna Nghipondoka insists that the learners did not fail.
She insisted that the AS level is merely an additional grade that will be done by learners who have the capacity of doing it. Over 46 000 Grade 11 learners wrote the 2021 examinations, of which only over 8000 qualified to do the next advanced subsidiary level. Nghipondoka was speaking in parliament this afternoon when she said that the old curriculum excluded some learners from doing higher level.
“It doesn’t mean that the learners failed. They did not fail. They still qualify with Cs or Bs in English and can enroll into other higher institutions of education. The confusion came last year when some institutions said they won’t take these kids. The Ordinary level written by grade 11s is the same as the old curriculum for grade 12.
Those who did not qualify are not thrown in the streets and they are not failing. They have not failed. They have other options. Last year we decided that learners who are 17 years old and below can repeat,” she said.
Landless People’s Movement(LPM) member of parliament Utaara Mootu responded saying that the new curriculum only favours the elite.
“The rich are able to take their kids to better schools to improve. Vocational Training Centers are bloated. We already have learners from the previous year in the streets,” Mootu lamented.
Meanwhile, Nghipondoka was also put on the spot by Swapo Member of Parliament Patience Masua, who demanded an apology from Nghipondoka on the state of OTJERUNDA Combined School in the Kunene Region. Last week, pictures of the school’s dilapidated hostel surfaced online and the minister said those were old pictures.
Masua, who at the time came to the defense of the ministry said “No Namibian learner can live in such conditions. The Minister of Basic Education has alerted us during today’s park session that these are old pictures that are being circulated. She is investigating the matter to establish the state of the school presently”.
Today, Masua also suggested that audits be carried out about the state of schools and hostels by the ministry.
“As a former Secretary General of the Namibia National Students Organisation, we owe an apology to the Namibian child for saying it was an older picture. I can confidently say that that is not the only school in such a state. We ought to restore the human dignity of our children.”
Nghipondoka said that an infrastructural analysis which began last year is already in place, which is similar to audits.
“The hostel issue is not a secret. We have very old hostels which haven’t been maintained or renovated, some since independence. We do renovations one by one and this year we have started with more than four hostels. It really depends on resources. What we have done is come up with an analysis of infrastructural needs which we stated last year. It breaks down all the infrastructural needs from classes, labs etc. We have a huge backlog. I cannot cut my nails and start building,” Nghipondoka said.
She added that an amount of N$1.6 million was given to Otjerunda Combined school, in addition to 83 mattresses. “The School was advised to buy more” she stated.