…after claims he messed up ‘education system’
The Popular Democratic Movement(PDM) party has blamed the country’s first education minister, Nahas Angula, for the precarious state of education in the country.
PDM lawmaker Nico Smit said this when lawmakers debated the state of education in the country in the National Assembly this week.
The motion was tabled by PDM MP Elma Dienda.
Smit, in his contribution, said the blame for the disastrous state of Namibia’s education system today should be laid squarely at the door of the country’s first education minister, Nahas Angula.
“As soon as we became Independent and Swapo took over the reins of government, Mr Nahas Angula was appointed as the first Minister of Basic Education.
Unfortunately, he forgot about the word “basic” in his new title, because one of the first things he did, was to abolish all pre-primary schools operated by the government,” he said.
Smit said the move deprived thousands of disadvantaged children of the essential opportunity to learn the basics of education that prepare them for the rigours of formal education in a primary school.
The second thing, according to Smit: “was to change the medium of instruction in government secondary schools to English – with no regard to whether the teachers could teach adequately in English – and in most cases outside the urban areas.”
The third thing he did, Smit said, was to have most of the syllabi for secondary schools rewritten – no problem with that, except that he forgot that he was dealing with thousands of poorly qualified teachers in rural areas who were left stranded.
“They were confronted with these new syllabi, that told them to teach new content but they were not given the necessary text books that provided this new content information.
Chaos ensued – chaos that led to the gradually worsening results that we are confronted with today,” Smit said.
Smit was under immediate attack from Swapo MPs who accused him of saying the Bantu Education System was better than the current system.
Smit accused government of using education for political purposes recently to the disadvantage of learners.
“I am referring to the announcement that secondary education would be free – always a great way to garner votes.
Yet the Ministry did not have the money to provide every school with enough funds to keep these schools running.
Schools were informed that expenses previously carried by the regional directorate would now have to be met by the schools themselves,” he said.
He added: “This included such essentials as cleaning materials, transport for educational trips, top-ups on text books, furniture maintenance and repairs, security services, toilet paper, copy paper, printer cartridges – the list is almost endless.”
Smit said the Ministry tied schools’ hands behind their backs by forbidding them to ask parents for financial support.
“Where exactly did the Hon Minister think schools would get the money for these expenses from, or is this simply another example of how easy it is to score political points in a sector that is of great importance to every Namibian, without the need to first think the matter through logically?” he questioned.
In his own defence, Angula said “Nico Smit is daydreaming and he is the last person who must talk about our systems.”
“Freedom meant liberation, he should not forget that the education they denied our kids has been discarded for good, our children can now get quality education.
He clearly wanted us to continue with Bantu education,” charged Angula.
Angula further accused Smit of politicking instead of addressing the real issues plaguing the country’s education system.
“He is crazy to compare the Bantu education system and the current system.
I know there are challenges such as the inability of the system to churn out enough job creators, but some of these challenges are systemic.
We must remember that education only equips you with skills and knowledge, but still, the two are affected by the structure of the economy,” he said.
Angula said lawmakers should focus on changing the structure of the economy.
“Honorable Dienda should table a motion focusing on the commodity-based economy that has tied our hands when it comes to controlling the prices of our commodities,” he said.
Angula added: “he must not forget that I went to one of the best universities in the world-Columbia University, he never even stepped foot there and that is why he is yearning for Apartheid by making these statements. He must be thankful we chose reconciliation, otherwise he could have been rotting in jail for the crimes against humanity that he committed.”