The Examination results of both Junior School Certificate and the National Senior School Certificate at Ordinary Level for 2018 once again demonstrate that on an average schools in pre-dominantly rural Regions are comparatively performing better than urban schools.
Save former Model C schools, schools in urban areas are under-performing.
This is particularly so of township schools. With exception of English subject, schools in rural areas performed better in Mathematics, Physical Science, Life Science, Geography and History.
In Mathematics, Oshikoto, Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Kavango East Regions were top performers. In Physical Science, Oshikoto, Kavango West, Oshana, Omusati and Kavango East Regions topped the performance list.
In Life Science, Oshikoto, Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Kavango West Regions scored highly. In Geography, Oshikoto, Oshana, Omusati, Kavango West and Kunene Regions were top performers. In History, Oshikoto, Kavango West, Oshana and Omusati performed better than the rest of the country.
In the National Senior Secondary School Certificate “O” Level, the top five (5) Government schools were Rukonga Vision School in Kavango East; Rev Juuso Shikongo Secondary School in Oshikoto; Negumbo Kandenge Secondary School in Omusati; Otjiwarongo Secondary School School in Otjozondjupa and Gabriel Taapopi Secondary School in Oshana. With exception of Otjiwarongo Secondary School, the other four are from predominantly rural settings.
Rural schools operate in relatively challenging environment. Their catchment areas are made up of villages.
These villages are inhabited by poor households, mostly pensioners and single mothers. Children are expected to perform daily domestic chores. Sometimes these children are not properly fed. Their nutrition status is deficient because of lack of balanced diet. Some of the learners are day scholars.
They access schools by walking on average six kilometres to and back from schools. During winter they walk to school in darkness and cold weather.
The rural setting does not provide a conducive learning ambience.
At home the learners do not have private space to do homework or to read for pleasure. School work has to be done at school.
These learners have to stay extra time after the teaching has ended to do their home-works.
Teachers work over-time without claiming over-time pay, for them to supervise the learners. In addition, rural schools are inadequately resourced to support teaching and learning.
Under such circumstances the educational collective in rural schools has to go an extra mile to create a conducive learning environment in their schools. In this regard, school leadership is critical. This starts with the creation of collegiality among the staff members.
The leadership skills of the School Principal are called upon to create the spirit of a common mission.
Supervision of staff is another skill which ensures that time-tabling, task assignments, schemes of work and lesson plans are properly done.
Team-work is critical to school performance.
Teaching and learning are about time management. Task on time ensures that the learners are able to cover the prescribed syllabus of a particular subject.
Teachers in rural schools spend extra time with their pupils over the weekends and during the holidays to make sure that learners spend more time on learning tasks. These teachers take teaching as a calling not just as a way of earning a leaving.
Regions compete among themselves in terms of performance. School Circuits do the same. Schools within the Circuits are also competing. This culture inspires both teachers and learners to work hard and perform well in the examinations.
Still rural schools could even do better if they receive extra support in the form of resources and encouragement from Education Sector Leadership. Under the current economic circumstances, rural schools are struggling to deliver quality education and training.
Rural schools need extra support because there is no learning supporting environment. Learning only takes place within the boundaries of the schools.
There are few community libraries. School libraries are non- existent and if existing are poorly stocked.
These schools should be assisted at least to have classroom bookshelf libraries where learners may borrow books to read at home.
They should be assisted to motivate learners to form school clubs such as debating clubs, agriculture clubs, sports clubs, reading clubs and so on. School Circuits should be encouraged to organise career guidance open days; excursions; debate competitions and similar extra-curricular activities.
Community involvement is equally important. With limited resources communities should be mobilised to make whatever contribution they can make.
The situation whereby school consumables are lacking in schools clearly defeat the Constitutional commitment to provide adequate education to the citizens.
Education is the heart-beat of any Nation. Investment in education is investment in the future.
Education should truly be understood as a shared responsibility. It is the basis of any development. Communities should therefore be encouraged to make voluntary contribution to the upkeep and development of their schools.
Those who can afford should invest in the education of their children. Free education should only apply to those who cannot afford to make a contribution.
School subsidies should target learners from poor backs. In rural areas those who have the means send their children to some- times dis-functional township schools in the belief that they are better schools than those in their villages.
Such parents should be convinced to trust schools in their neighbourhoods by showing them how these schools perform better than township schools.
Moreover, rural schools should be upgraded to offer subjects at higher level of the National Senior Secondary Certificate.
This will require provision of teacher houses to enable rural schools to attract qualified teachers; upgrading of school laboratories and libraries; provision of required text-books and better school management and supervision.
Education is the future of our Nation. We all should share the responsibility of resourcing our schools.