What education, for what?

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

What education and for what? Until Namibia answers this fundamental question her education shall continue to be deviled as it has been since independence.

When the education system existing then was changed and continued to undergo various metamorphosis without any reason other than its assumed and presumed fundamentals. One which could have been that it is Bantu Education and/or education for the various ethnicities according to the cultural identities comprising the Namibian society. That to a large extent continues to be the case. One pointer to this effect being the teaching of and in mother tongues in the various schools in the country and her regions. Like with mother tongues, for instance hardly taught, if at all in many if not most of the former white schools where the Apartheid languages still reigns supreme in these schools. It is any wonder and guess why this situation still exist in the education system in the country. Bu it is not difficult to explain it. Simply the more things change the more they remain the same.

Those in the education sector, especially at the helm of it, whether administratively or in terms of policymaking, years in and years out have been and continues to cite the many complexities and dynamics of the education system. Yours Truly Ideologically cannot but simply muse and guess as to what the complexities and dynamics are that are being and have been alluded to and cited by the educationists. Safe for a weak foundation on which the education system has been and continues to be based on. Which defines and should define the basic question as to what education and for what. Is it education for the job market? What job market and in which production system. Capitalists production system or which one. These and other fundamental questions have never been answered in laying the necessary and everlasting, if not in the interim a stable education system which speaks to the needs of the populace. A largely agrarian populace given that essentially Namibia is largely communal and thus education to a certain e
xtent, if not large and predominant one, be geared towards reconstructing her communal areas. The contribution of the agricultural sector to employment is significant. This by 2021 being 22.12 percent while the industry’s was only 16.43 percent. In 2022 the contribution of the agricultural sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 8.58 percent. Livestock farming contributes about two-thirds of agricultural production with crop farming and forestry contributing the remaining third. Among the active contributors to livestock farming are the regions of Omaheke and Otjozondjupa, Hardap and Karas, parts of Erongo and Kunene. Notably the communal areas of these regions. Yet when one looks at the level of economic progress or development of these areas, they do not match their contribution to the GDP, employment and related indices. Surely the education system cannot be without blemish for this pertaining status quo. Either those engaged in production in the sector may not sufficiently skilled for the producti
on to have the desired and requisite impact socio-economically, and/if they are sufficiently skilled there’s a mismatch between their skills and/or the application thereof in the production system. But the fundamental is partly the orientation of the education system towards the production system. Which again raises and begs the question what education and for what.

“The importance of education with production cannot be overemphasised. Unless Zimbabwe takes its route through productive strategies and programmes that lead to self-reliance and self-sufficiency we shall remain a nation of international beggars,” writes late former Zimbabwean President G.S. Banana in his book: Towards A Socialist Ethos, underling the essence of education. Not education in a generalist and mundane sense but education for production. Yours Truly Ideologically can also not but underline the two key words in this regard. Self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Posing at the same time the pertinent question self-reliance and self-sufficiency in what? Does the Namibian education orient its subjects towards self-reliance and self-sufficiency and in what? Is the fundamental question which goes to an even other fundamental question as to its philosophy and/or orientation. Are learners subjected to learning and students to studying only for the sake of it? Or to help them develop their mental acumen and t
owards what end. To serve the capitalist productive system? And is the this capitalist production system geared towards self-reliance and self-sufficiency, especially in agrarian production Namibia being largely, at least for now, an agrarian society that it is? These are some of the questions that should have featured prominently if not predominantly in shaping the country’s education system.

In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which is about education ending oppression, Paul Freire, writes that education must be centred upon developing critically conscious, ‘humanized’, learners who act to liberate themselves, and the world, from injustice. Such is Freire’s educational philosophy. While for Banana is about self-reliance and self-sufficiency. There is no dichotomy between the two.

Yours Truly Ideologically is reminded of a gifted student in one of the African countries who have turned down a scholarship abroad opting to study at a local university of his own country, or if needs be of a neighbouring country. His reason was that better to study in and under conditions which your scholarship may eventually be called upon to improve and change. Meaning education is not about necessarily changing your own personal material conditions and/or fortunes but that of your country and her and your fellow citizens. Another simplistic and fresh outlook and/or philosophy on education by a young Africanist to take a leaf or two from.

Namibia’s education ills have since independence been recurrent with learners year in and year out falling by the wayside. Its makers making us believe this is due to mutliple complexities and dynamics. Granted. But not to loose sight of the fundamental, which is its foundation. Because it is not clear on what philosophical basis it is rooted. It has been taken for granted as long as there are schools and learners to attend them, there is education. Oblivious that schools and/or education is more than mere srtuctures. Foremost the orientation of any education system is of vital importance. And thus the content of such an education system is vital other than shunning every year thousands of thousands of educational subjects proving at the end of the day empty shells. Let alone condemning some presumably falling by its sideways to the streets. Ala Freire the dominant banking model/system of education as manifested in situations where the teacher deposits all knowledge and information into the minds of the stude
nts and withdraws them during examination with all the interests.

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