The most recent education reforms which were adopted during the third Cabinet session of 2014, approved the Curriculum Reform for Basic Education and the eight –year implementation plan. This strengthened our resolve to become a knowledge-based society.
However, where are we going to get teachers for subjects in these streams? As young leaders we propose that institutions of higher education introduce a curriculum at a Postgraduate Diploma level that will qualify students from vocational training centres (VTCs) and the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT) to be admitted as teachers and for them to take up teaching posts.
Furthermore, there is an urgent need for a high-level Technikon to exists between VTCs and universities to cater for students who qualify for vocational training but who do not meet the entry requirements at universities. This responsibility rests squarely with the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation to mitigate the vacuum created by the non-existence of such a Technikon.
A highly trained human capital with the correct technical skills and innovation is one of the most important factors that influence the economic growth of a country and region. The quality of human capital is dependent on its education, training and skills import, as well as the creative abilities. Hence, the urgent need for quality training at technical colleges and universities.
An effective education and research system will create thinkers, innovators and problem solvers. Labs, incubators, mentors and partners, are the enablers that every institution of higher learning should acquire.
The newly revised Curriculum Reform for Basic Education will come at a cost. Teachers need to be trained, materials developed, and laboratories equipped with teaching and learning resources. More classrooms also need to be constructed. Therefore, there is a need to plan prudently so as to ensure that the limited financial resources we have are used for the listed needs. I want to also sympathize with the Ministry of Basic Education, Arts and Culture on the fact that the recent allocated budget is not enough to cater for this development because bulk of the funds are used to pay teachers.
Vocational education and training (VET), is steadily emerging as a global front runner in driving national developmental agendas, and features prominently in the strategic and operational priorities of regional economic communities and multilateral organizations, including that of the African Union (AU), International Labor Organization (ILO) and United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The rationale to prioritize and invest in VET is strong and convincing and stems from the recognition of VET as a source of skills, knowledge-based and transitional societies for the 21st century.
VET is further accorded a high premium because of its potential to equip citizens with jobs, ready skills and for its potential to deal with the global challenges of youth employability and unemployment. Productivity is the basis for sustained economic growth and wealth accumulation. For Namibia to improve its global competitiveness, it is important that our citizens have the required technical and vocational skills.
Developed economies were not built by PhD holders, but by craftsmen and artisans. We cannot expect to develop, if we do not have these skills. Research shows that there is a huge deficit in vocational skills in the labour market. Moreover, people with vocational skills tend to be more entrepreneurial and through appropriate supportive interventions may even set up their own small business, thereby, employing others and contribute to job creation. Vocational training is not meant for the so-called dropouts or those that fail to get admitted to universities. It is therefore, not an inferior skill, but one highly rated under the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HHP) in line with core skills needed and identified as per the National Skills Development Plan.
*Hofni Iipinge is the Swapo Party Youth League Secretary for Education, Pioneers Movement and Culture*