Monday 12 April 2021
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Govt complains about its own vocational training system

Government says one of the reasons it finds it hard to achieve the fourth United Nations Sustainable Development Goal which hovers around ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, is because Namibia’s vocational education and training system is fragmented between different types of providers and does not constitute a comprehensive and consistent network.
The main issues under SDG 4 in Namibia are Early Childhood Development; Basic education, Technical, Vocation Education and Training (TVET) and Higher Education Child.
In terms of early-childhood development, by the expiry of the MDGs, only 13% of children aged 0-4 years were enrolled in ECD programs (2011 National Population and Housing Census). Children in urban areas (19%) were more likely to receive ECD services than children in rural areas (9.8%).
Pertaining to basic education, Namibia has made great progress in providing access to education to just over 95% of the student-age population. Nevertheless, the quality of instruction is often unsatisfactory, especially in schools serving poor communities. In 2015, only 45% of grade 5 pupils achieved proficiency in English whilst 63% of the same grade achieved proficiency in Mathematics. Grade 7 pupils fared even worse with just 48% and 41% achieving proficiency in English and Mathematics respectively. At the secondary level, there are unacceptably high rates of repetition. Of grade 8 pupils, about 30 % repeat that grade. More than one-third of all students drop-out by grade 10.
In the most remote, rural areas, drop-out rates are an extreme concern. Only 49% of first graders in extremely remote areas will attend school to grade 5. The quality of teaching is a major issue. More than 20% of teachers have no teaching qualifications. The low performance of students on end-of-year tests suggests that teaching is not having the intended impact on student learning. The transition from secondary to higher education is very low, currently estimated at 19% of the grade 12 cohorts.
As regards to Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET), by 2015, 25,137 individuals were enrolled in TVET. The vocational education completion rate stands at 60%. Amongst the challenges is that TVET provision is inadequate in terms of access and, in many cases, quality. Many potential TVET learners are either unable to enroll due to problems of access, or unwilling due to negative perception of TVET generally or lack of a desired course to attend.
Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Higher Education and Innovation Policy review in Namibia gained momentum following a scoping exercise conducted in 2016.
The scoping exercise was expected to contribute to reducing inequality and foster youth employment and entrepreneurship, as a condition for stability and prosperity over the next decades.
A number of strategies and plans have already been written to that effect. The challenge is to ensure their consistency and to implement them, taking into account two major constraints. First, Namibia’s economy remains largely dual, excluding a large proportion of the population from employment in decent work. Second, owing to the difficult living conditions of a large proportion of the population and to the deficiencies of the basic education system, the achievement of students entering upper levels of education and training is insufficient.
The system has poor linkages with basic education, with higher education and between its own components. Key issues arise regarding quantity, quality and relevance, which explains why the VET system produces very small numbers of adequately skilled workers, reinforcing the dual nature of Namibia’s labour market. The report further highlighted key issues of quantity, quality and relevance with the TVET sector as follows:
Quantity: the system lacks capacity to enroll sufficient numbers of trainees, given the large youth population of the country, and largely excludes young people who did not complete basic education. Lifelong learning opportunities exist but need to be scaled up. Quality: many trainees lack foundation skills and face precarious living conditions, which hampers their ability to learn. Initial qualifications and training of trainers appear inadequate. The equipment of training centres is sometimes deficient and outdated.
VET does not guarantee a smooth transition to employment or to entrepreneurship.
Trainees face challenges finding job placements, while formal firms complain that VET does not respond to their demand for skills. Support for young entrepreneurs remains limited.
Vocational education and training (VET). Namibia’s VET system has insufficient capacity to meet the demand for training of individuals and does not supply the skills necessary to the expansion and diversification of the economy.
Existing VET institutions do not constitute a comprehensive and consistent network and the system lacks leadership and strategic directions aligned with Namibia’s development goals.
With reference to Namibian higher education, quality and relevance of university education has been a serious concern of both private and public sector employers.
Post-graduate education continues to be underdeveloped and its contribution to research and innovation remains small. Considerable inequalities of access to university education remain in terms of social class, geographical location, marginalized groups as well as those with special needs and disabilities.
The country has only two public universities and one private university, besides other private higher education institutions. Enrolment has grown exponentially since the late 2000s, to almost 44,000 in 2013.
As a consequence, Namibia’s gross enrolment ratio in tertiary education (19.0 per cent in 2013) is high by sub-Saharan African standards (8.2 per cent for the region in 2013).
Yet the admission criteria excludes a large share of applicants, although public universities have established bridging programmes to facilitate access by young people from disadvantaged background or with previous work experience.
Public universities suffer from severe shortages of qualified academic staff (the student/academic staff ratio at the University of Namibia was 26.5 in 2016, and only 21 per cent of academic staff had PhD degrees). Internal quality assurance systems have been introduced in public universities and in some of the private higher education institutions, but they need to be harmonized.
Internships or entrepreneurship training have been introduced, and a few tracer studies conducted, but there are no sound policy frameworks and strategies to systematically guide these arrangements.
Public universities conduct research and provide outreach services, but they lack consistent research agendas and partnerships with industries appear weak.
Science, Technology and Innovation (STI).
Namibia has a comprehensive policy and institutional framework for STI.
The national system of innovation has grown in size and complexity but lacks scientific and technological dynamism. Investment in research and development (R&D): Dominated by public institutions, R&D suffers from low levels of funding (0.14 per cent of GDP in 2010) and staffing (433 R&D personnel in 2010), and files a limited number of patents, industrial design registrations and trademarks.
A weak entrepreneurial and innovation culture is a barrier to job creation and economic diversification in Namibia.
The incoherence of policies, their long gestation period and poor implementation undermine the system.
Meanwhile, private sector participation in R&D and innovation is limited and often not linked to universities and R&D institutes.
The policy review identifies six strategic priorities, each associated with a set of policy options: (1) transform and expand VET, and diversify higher education; (2) improve quality; (3) promote research, innovation and entrepreneurship; (4) reduce inequality; (5) engage employers and enhance responsiveness to labour market needs; and (6) review the institutional structure and fill policy gaps.
The sixth strategic priority, on governance and policy making, is most urgent as it conditions the effective implementation of policy options towards the other five priorities.

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