CONCEPTUALIZING QUALITY IN EDUCATIONALSETTINGS

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CHAPTER THREE THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION IN THE NAMIBIAN PRIMARY SCHOOLS CONTEXT

INTRODUCTION

This chapter provides a review of literature on the perceived quality of education in Namibian primary school context; the role of ICT in the improvement of the quality of education in the Namibian primary school context; the extent to which teachers and other stakeholders contribute to the quality of education at Namibian schools; the role of management with regard to the improvement of quality of teaching and learning in Namibian schools; and determine whether the cluster system of schools has enhanced the quality of teaching and learning in Namibian primary schools. In conclusion, this chapter will summarize and provide the justification of the present study.

THE PERCEIVED QUALITY OF EDUCATION IN THE NAMIBIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL CONTEXT

At independence in 1990, the Ministry of Education’s focus was on access to education. Today focus has shifted to improving the quality of education and quality outputs at all levels of education and the training sector (Government of the Republic of Namibia, 2007). The achievement of political independence in 1990 paved the way for the Namibian government to reform the existing school systems in the country so that learners could be prepared to become citizens who would critically participate in society (Zeichner & Dahlstrom, 2001).

The perceived quality of education

At independence, changes within the Namibia’s educational system were seen as a priority due to the apartheid education system that was used which was based on racism and apartheid. This reform was based on the following goals: access, equity, quality, and democracy in education. The new educational system was built on learner-centred education with the aim of encouraging curiosity and excitement, and to promote democracy and responsibility in lifelong learning (Ministry of Education and Culture, 1993). This system, according to National Institute for Educational Development, NIED (2001:7),
“… presupposes that teachers have a holistic view of the learner, be able to select content and methods on the basis of a shared analysis of the learner’s needs, and thus develop their own and the learner’s creativity…”
This reform was both a change in curriculum development process and products, and a transition from one system of education to another.
The learner-centred approach is related to the goals of education in Namibia in the following ways, (Zeichner & Dahlstrom, 2001:269):
It is related to access where all learners receive new and unfamiliar knowledge through critical reflection;
It is related to equity by providing individual attention to all learners in their studies;
It is related to efficiency through the learning process, understanding and the broad competencies in teacher education; and Democracy is related to the rights and obligations of both students and teacher educators to be involved in the production of knowledge, broadening of involvement beyond the classroom and develop learning communities.
Under the Cape Education System, the teaching practice regarded learners as having no knowledge and needed to be filled by the knowledge of the teacher (MBESC, 1996). It was against this background that the then Ministry of Education and Culture proposed the learner-centred teaching methods for Basic Education in Namibia. Schrenko (1994) notes that in a learner-centred approach, the learners must be at the core of the teaching and learning process, where their interests and needs should be taken into account when a teacher is planning or presenting a lesson. Freire (1998) indicates that learner-centred education should be built on action teaching and understanding in order for learners to make connection between classroom activities and real experiences.
The learner-centred approach was one of the educational reforms in the classroom prior to independence around 1986 and 1993 and Namibia embraced this idea (Ministry of Education, 1993; and Angula & Grant-Lewis, 1997). This major change was an attempt to move away from the subject-centred curriculum and teacher-centred teaching. Learner-centred education was seen as a way of providing quality and democratic education and also equity amongst the Namibian learners (MEC, 1993). Learner-centred education therefore embraces terms such as active learning, exploration, self-responsibility learners’ prior knowledge and skills.
In the document titled “How learner-centred are you? The Ministry of Basic Education and
Culture in Namibia defines the term learner-centred education as:
An approach to teaching and learning that comes directly from the National Goals of equity and democracy. It is an approach that means that teachers put the needs of the learner at the centre of what they do in the classroom, rather than the learner being made to fit whatever needs the teacher has decided upon… learning must begin by using or finding out the learners’ existing knowledge, skills and understanding of the topic…. Then teachers develop more activities that build on and extend the learners’ knowledge (MBEC, 1999:2).
The Ministry of Education (1993) stated that after independence in 1990, the school curriculum had to be redesigned. Various subjects were structured around learning competencies, learner-centred methodology, continuous assessment, and on semi-automatic promotion. The National examination was conducted in Grade 10 and 12, but at the end of 2000, the National semi-external examination was phased in for Grade seven. The under qualified teachers were encouraged to improve their formal qualifications after independence. Schools were encouraged to get the parents involved in the schools activities, in learner support, and in playing a role in the management of the schools through the School Boards. The schools also expected the parents to contribute towards purchasing materials for their children and to contribute to the school development fund from which materials would be purchased. This was done due to inadequate supply of materials and supplies by the Ministry of Education (Ministry of Education, 1993) In-service training was done for both class and subject teachers. It was expected that learning outcomes could be improved upon by providing better-qualified teachers and reducing class size that could eliminate disparities between regions, rural and urban schools. In 1998, the national learner-teacher ratio at primary and secondary schools was 29:1 but 14, 4 percent of schools had ratios in excess of 40:1. The recommendation by the Presidential Commission on Education, Culture and Training to eliminate inequities in the allocation of funds and provision of facilities and equipment was promoted by factors that influenced the quality of education (Government of the Republic of Namibia, 2000a; and Government of the Republic of Namibia, 2000b).
Immediately after independence, the Namibian government realised the importance of early-childhood education and drafted the Guidelines for Early Childhood Education with the aim of providing quality education while learners are at a young age (Ministry of Basic Education and Culture, 1993). This was seen as an investment in the education of the Namibian children and would ensure that all children have access to education.
The Ministry of Education (2008:1-2) proposes the following curriculum for the one year certificate in pre-primary education, as there was a need in this field of study:
Develop the personal, social and emotional well-being of each child;
develop social skills by providing opportunities to share, co-operate, work and listen to others;
develop attention skills to concentrate on activities and tasks given;
develop language and communication skills via a wide range of situations;
prepare children for reading and writing skills with opportunities for all to explore and enjoy signs, words and printed matter;
develop understanding of numbers, measurements, patterns, shapes and space via a broad range of contexts;
develop an understanding of the world in terms of the environment, people and places via opportunities to solve problems, make decisions, experiment, predict, plan and explore, develop fine and gross motor skills, understanding of how their bodies work and what they need to do to be healthy and safe; and develop creativity and sharing of ideas and feelings through a variety of art forms.
These outcomes of the envisaged qualification would enable student teachers to be employed as pre-primary teachers in the private or public sector.
Naanda (2007) however discovered that not all children were privileged to the right of access to Early Childhood Education due to the barriers such as poverty and other hindrances. This resulted in learners being left behind by those who had access to Early Childhood Education. Anon (2009) agrees with the above statement and regards the absence of pre-primary as preparatory for formal school as one of the result in the low literacy levels for learners as they pass through various phases of the education system.
The United States Agency for International Development (2006) has supported the Namibian government’s policies to improve the quality of primary education since 1995. The focus was on curriculum development and teacher support, providing structured instructional material used for active learning and continuous assessment. As an example, the government’s commitment to the improvement of the education system is evident through the establishment of the Educational and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP) which will address the need to access Early Childhood Education (Government of the Republic of Namibia, 2007).
According to the Ministry of Education (2006), ETSIP is a detailed, composite and broad-based plan of action for education in Namibia. It is guided by the national vision statement, Vision 2030, which set a target date that by 2030; all Namibian citizens should be provided with a quality of life compared to that of the developed world. Namibia embraces a standards-based approach to education and training which implies that within the school context, subject-matter measures academic achievements and standards based teaching is directed towards student mastery. Teachers should teach in such a way for students to achieve the standards; therefore the National Professional Standards for Teachers in Namibia was developed, that should be the direct outcome of the ETSIP programme. It is based on a fifteen-year strategic plan which was accepted in 2005 by the Namibian government. The first phase of the sector is directed at strengthening the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of the general education and training system in Namibia. The improvement of teacher performance will begin with defining;
Competencies required and to develop teacher standards;
Implementing the planned system of licensing; and Developing incentives of various kinds.
The Ministry of Education (2007a) indicated that the first cycle of the National External School Evaluation (NESE) visits took place in a selection of schools. These comprised 13 senior secondary schools, two junior secondary schools, five combined schools, and 10 primary schools. The visits were aimed at identifying the schools’ strengths and weaknesses in seven areas which included the provision of resources for schools and hostels; curriculum and attainment; the teaching and learning process; the school as a social unit; management and leadership of school; links with parents and the community; and links with other schools and the region. The results of the 2006 survey pertaining to the teaching and learning process reflected that 30 percent of primary schools poorly used available teaching resources; that 60 percent used time in lessons inadequately; 40 percent of teachers neglected to consider the learning styles of their learners; that 80 percent of primary schools inadequately implemented the National Assessment Policy; and that the assessment for learning, use of assessment data and learner self-evaluation practices were generally poor. The external school evaluation is seen as an important aspect of the Ministry’s policy to improve schools for the benefit of all learners. This evaluation shows how far education has come since independence as well as the many challenges that the education system is still faced with.
One of the aspects worth noticing is the system of licensing. According to the Ministry of Education (2006), teachers will become licensed for a period of five years and renewed every five years. For teachers to become licensed, they should meet the National Professional Standards for Teachers in Namibia and continue to show growth, professional development, and continuously improve in their work. Subject Heads, Principals, Heads of Departments, and Advisory teachers all play a vital role in gathering evidence of the teacher’s competence to perform as set about by the National Standards. The evidence gathered must be open and transparent and teachers will know what is required from them through:
Evaluation of their own teaching against the standards;
discover areas of improvement;
find ways of improvement either through study groups at school or within their cluster;
formulate a working plan of action to be used;
raise standards at meetings; and/or
provide in-service training assistance where needed.
Failure by teachers, who are unwilling or unable to meet the requirement of the National Standards, would eventually result in teachers losing their licenses. This approach could have both a positive and negative response from Namibian teachers. The teachers might view this as positive by regarding the approach as a way to grow within teaching and learning, yet they could also view it in a negative light and might feel that they would not be evaluated positively by both management and advisory teachers who seldom visit schools. Therefore this system has still to be studied to understand its feasibility, practicality and relevance in education.
The teacher education prior to independence was underdeveloped for the entire country. The white population group had the post-graduate diploma, Higher Education Diploma, (HED) while the black population’s education was focused on senior secondary school rather than on the pedagogy. This led to the majority of teachers who were not adequately trained or not trained at independence. The effect this had on the learner’ outcomes were based on the poor preparations of lessons which had an impact on the learners’ progress (Ottevanger, Macfarlane & Clegg, 2005). The renewal of the entire education system in improving the quality of education, led to the setting up of the In-service training and assistance project, (INSTANT), for Namibian teachers. The qualifications of teachers were divided amongst racial lines, as indicated in the Teacher Education Reform which affected the state of science and mathematics education. The design of the INSTANT Project was set up to guide the education reform and curriculum change, aiming at changing the teaching methodology and improving the science and mathematics education in the country. Although this project’s aim was focused on secondary education, natural science and health education in the upper primary education was also included. Teachers were targeted through workshops and through in-service education activities. New textbooks were developed and produced locally, which assisted in shaping the curriculum and teaching materials. This project assisted in designing a clear understanding of learner-centred education in science, but very little in mathematics (Ottevanger et al., 2005). Anon (2009) is of the opinion that the lack of teachers’ competencies in Mathematics and Science at primary school level contributed towards the failure rate in Secondary schools.
Another reform after independence was the uplifting of the level of English proficiency and was emphasized at a Language Development Conference in April 2000. Shikongo (2000) outlines the various needs for the improvement of the English language in Namibian schools and states that the English language Sensitive methodologies are introduced in teacher education institutions. These needs, as stated by the author, are that many teachers are still experiencing problems in teaching through the medium of English, especially in the rural areas, that subject teachers should nurture the learners’ linguistic development, and that trainees should understand the importance of English first language to assist in enhancing the learning and teaching of a second language. Reasons cited for the poor language competencies of teachers are that they have limited English knowledge required for using a language in teaching and learning and those teachers are afraid of using English first language in the classroom.
Shejavalli (2008) highlights the poor level of English competency of teachers as one of the problems contributing to the learners’ poor performances in primary schools. Ontero (2000) agrees that the implementation of appropriate methodologies led to good results in schools. The importance of the English competencies of teachers is seen as vital in educational reform. Although research in English proficiency of teachers has shown improvement, however, the author still found it to be insufficient. A study by Mouton (2007) revealed that teachers, with a few years in teaching are still reverting to another language during teaching. These teachers indicated that they were compelled to code switch in their classes because of the learners’ inability to understand terminology. Another reason is the multilingual classes that resulted in teachers’ code switching to facilitate understanding. The author found that teachers with large class sizes, code switched more than those in smaller classes. This often gave rise to discipline problems. Afrikaans and Herero were the two languages mostly used by teachers when they code switched and the community, where only a certain language was spoken, was also indicated as a reason for the use of code switching in the classes.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 
Acknowledgement
Declaration
UMI
Abstracts
Abbreviations
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY 
1.1 INTRODUCTION
2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
3 THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
4 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES WITH THE STUDY
5 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
6 RELIABILITY AND VALIDITY OF RESEARCH
7 PLANNING OF THE STUDY
8 DEFINITION OF KEY CONCEPTS
9 CONTRIBUTION OF THIS STUDY
10 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER TWO: CONCEPTUALIZING QUALITY IN EDUCATIONALSETTINGS 
2.1 INTRODUCTION 30 2.2 QUALITY IN THE EDUCATIONAL CONTEXT
2.3 THE NEED FOR QUALITY EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS
2.4 TWO FRAMEWORKS FOR EXPLAINING AND UNDERSTANDING QUALITY IN THE EDUCATION SETTING
2.5 CONDITIONS TO ENSURE QUALITY IN EDUCATION
2.6 HOW IS QUALITY IN EDUCATION PERCEIVED IN A FEW SELECTED COUNTRIES
2.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER THREE: THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION IN THE NAMIBIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL CONTEXT 
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THE PERCEIVED QUALITY OF EDUCATION IN NAMIBIAN PRIMARY SCHOOL CONTEXT
3.3 STRATEGIES TI IMPROVE QUALITY OF TEACHING AND LEARNING IN NAMIBIA
3.4 THE ROLE OF MANAGEMENT WITH REGARD TO TEACHING AND LEARNING IN NAMIBIAN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
3.5 THE ROLE OF THE CLUSTER SYSTEM WITH REGARD TO THE QUALITY OF TEACHING AND LEARNING IN NAMIBIAN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
3.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER FOUR: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RESEARCH PARADIGM
4.3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.5 POPULATION AND SAMPLE
4.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
4.7 INSTRUMENTATION
4.8 PILOT TESTING
4.9 DATA COLLECTION AND CAPTURING
4.10 DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION
4.11 VALIDITY, RELIABILITY AND TRUSTWORTHINESS OF RESEARCH
4.12 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER FIVE: PRESENTATION OF DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSIONS OF THE FINDINGS 
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 QUANTITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
5.5 DISCUSSION ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VIEWS ON THE VALUE OF ICT AND AGE GROUP BY CLUSTER
5.6 QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS
5.7 MIXED METHOD APPROACH
5.8 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER SIX: SUMMARY, FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 SUMMARY OF THE STUDY
6.3 LIMITATIONS AND DELIMITATIONS TO THE STUDY
6.4 CONCLUSIONS FROM THE STUDY
6.5 RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE STUDY
6.6 CONTRIBUTION OF THE STUDY TO THE IMPROVEMENT OF QUALITY TEACHING AND LEARNING IN NAMIBIAN PRIMARY SCHOOLS
6.7 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
6.8 CHAPTER SUMMARY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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