Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa has questioned the readiness and preparedness of some Regional Education Directorates in the implementation of capital projects, saying if need be, the ministry will delay the decentralization of capital projects until all loopholes are closed.She emphasized that “decentralization ought to promote speed in services delivery instead of corruption.”Speaking at the annual review of the Education, Arts and Culture in the capital this week, Hanse-Himarwa said the decentralization of capital projects by the Ministry is meant to promote “speed” in service delivery.“The intention (of decentralization) is to speed up implementation and to bring development closer to the level of the people. And when we send the projects, that should be the main focus for all of us to ensure the projects are implemented properly, professionally, responsibly and honestly,” charged Hanse-Himarwa.
She further said: “When I (Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture) decentralizes capital projects it is not to promote corruption at the regional levels. It is to promote speed in implementation. “But what I am seeing is a very funny trend and I am not impressed at all. And until those loopholes are closed, I will be forced to go slow in decentralizing capital projects.”Without pointing to a specific region, Hanse-Himarwa questioned the preparedness and transparency of Regional Education Directorate in ensuring the full implementation of decentralized capital projects.“The concern is whether we are really transparent, ready and prepared to take up the responsibility of capital projects that are sent to the regions. I have a concern with some of the Ministry’s capital projects that have been decentralized,” she said.The Education Minister said she was worried that some decentralised capital projects would never take off because of a “push and pull” situation that is currently happening at regional levels.“Some (individuals) end up now in legal battles, fights between leadership at regional level over projects that have been decentralised, it is a push-and-pull-to-and-fro. So I am worried.And I want us to ensure that all the loopholes are closed so that there should not be space for funny happenings,” said Hanse-Himarwa.
At this joint gathering, Hanse-Himarwa took time to highlight key achievements of the education ministry in the past year.”Among the achievements mentioned, the Ministry established a multi-sectoral committee in implanting the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA) which coordinated and submitted an annual report to African Union, Hanse-Himarwa said. On the front of legislation and policy final drafts of the Education Bill, School Cluster Policy, Arts and Culture Policy will soon be tabled in Cabinet and Parliament.Furthermore, other achievements include the re-introduction of pre-vocational subjects in school and the training programme to train underqualified and unqualified teachers through the University of Namibia.On the downside, however, Hanse-Himarwa said her Ministry is faced with challenges such as limited funds and high learner dropout.“These (challenges) include limited funds, gender gaps in relation to high dropout and repletion of learners, negative cultural practices, limited participation of men in the national literacy programme and inadequate support to teenage parents,” she said.To mitigate these challenges, Hanse-Himarwa said: “We have persistent challenges which the ministry wishes to address with speed, urgency and bold objectivity and understand the rational of our actions especially with the current budget downwardly reviewed.”
Hanse-Himarwa said activities of the Ministry should not take place in “isolation” from the Harambee Prosperity Plan, Vision 2030 to the National Development Plan (NDP5).“The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture does not work in isolation and its operations are also informed by the national blueprint, (namely) Vision 2030, NDP5 and Harambee Prosperity Plan.“We should ensure that our plans are aligned to the Strategic Goals (SDGs) as well as to the national goals enshrined in the above-mentioned documents,” noted Hanse-Himarwa.Additionally, Hanse-Himarwa said the Education Ministry will not succeed in the absence of a “clear” linkage and alignments with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare.“The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture cannot succeed unless clear linkage and alignment is established with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare for a strong foundation.I appreciate the role of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare on community development and I trust closer collaboration with our programmes on family literacy can add value to strengthen parental roles,” she noted.Hanse-Himarwa added that a linkage should also be created between her Ministry and that of Higher Education, Training and Innovation to “ensure” progression of learners into academic or vocational careers.