Roles of Namibian government in providing education

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Chapter 3 Education systems in Namibia

Introduction

The education systems in Namibia stem from a dark history of 300 years of South African colonial oppression. During this time of apartheid the education system was designed to favour the white minority. With independence in 1990, the Government of the Republic of Namibia introduced extensive reforms in order to eliminate these disparities, by allocating annually up to 28% of the government budget to the education sector (Fischer, 2010: 3).
Although the Namibian government aspires to make transition from poor education and economic background to high value-added and knowledge based economy, the acute skills shortage in the country‘s labour market currently impedes the realisation of these national development goal and vision 2030 (MCA Compact, 2008: 1). A legacy of severe historical inequities in access to education, coupled with an ineffective education and training system, continues to affect the quality of education in Namibia from the primary to the secondary and tertiary levels (MCA Compact, 2008: 1). This chapter focuses on the education system in Namibia and how it influences and affects the teaching and learning of Chemistry practical work as well as the learner-teacher interaction in a Chemistry class.
As narrated earlier in Chapter 1 the education system in Namibia is divided in three types: formal, non-formal and tertiary education. Formal education has five levels that learners should go through, pre-primary, junior primary, senior primary, junior secondary and senior secondary education. From first year in primary school to the last year in secondary school it takes 12 years to complete. Non-formal education in the Ministry of Education has taken the task of improving literacy level among the nation. Tertiary education in Namibia focuses on after school qualifications and vocational training of school dropout or graduates.

Chemistry education in Namibia

Education refers to the way people acquire skills and gain knowledge. Namibia as a country that is emerging out of imbalances of the past has embarked upon the formation of educational policies that address the primary objective of the education system. Promulgated in December 2001, the education policies on sustainable development aim at among other things to provide accessible, equitable, qualitative and democratic national education service (Adejoke, 2007: 1). The above four mentioned points are further explained in the NIED Document (2003: 5-6) as follow:

  • Accessible does not only mean getting all Namibian children to school but, also making knowledge and understanding accessible to them. This means that what they learn, and how they learn, has to be approached in such a way that all learners can develop as fully as possible, and achieve the best of their abilities.
  • Equitable education means that learners are not only treated equally, but where there are inequalities, measures are taken to redress them. This is particularly true in terms of gender, race, and social class where there can be overt and covert prejudice, or bias, or assumptions. It is not only the question of the teacher treating the learner equitably, but also brings up the learners to treat each other equitably.
  • Quality means that the relevance, meaningfulness and reasonableness of challenge in education are in the forefront. The curriculum, the teacher, materials and the learning environment should all be of high standards. Those standards should be definite so that the quality of education can be monitored and improved where necessary.
  • Democracy means that education should be democratically structured, democracy should be taught and experienced, and the aim should be to promote democratic principles in the society.

There are enormous technological changes taking place in Namibia and the world at large, with regard to education. These make it difficult for educators and curriculum developers to predict which knowledge and skills will be useful in the future. That is why Adeyoke (2007: 23) emphases that ―learners need to know how to find the information they will need and to see for themselves what fit their situation. By doing this, they will learn to think for themselves and become independent thinkers.‖ Chemistry by nature involves creativity and experimental activities that are fuelled by observation and inquiry methods of learning. That is why it is referred to as experimental science or central science because many important branches of further studies emerge from Chemistry, e.g., medicine, engineering, agriculture and earth science (Brown, 2000: 2). The development of Namibia as a nation that aims at becoming an industrialised nation by 2030, needs specialised knowledge and skills in areas like medicine, agriculture, water, fertilisers, paints, chemicals and health which are all tied to Chemistry education as an important subject for economic development. These make Chemistry an important subject in schools (Jamison, 2001:3).
Chemistry gives learners the opportunity to acquire and develop basic scientific skills and knowledge that they can apply to new life situations they face. The basic scientific methods of inquiry developed through Chemistry in learners can be easily applied to other subjects in solving problems; and also be used in helping learners cope with the ever changing technological development that has become so much part of our lives (Jamison, 2001: 3).

 Chemistry at School level

Teaching Chemistry presents many challenges and problems in a majority of countries around the world and Namibia is not an exception. Research shows that Chemistry is one of the complicated, boring and declining subjects in terms of enrolment and interest at comprehensive school level (Gedrovics, Wareborn & Jeronen, 2006: 79 and Seetso & Taiwo, 2005: 8). Most Natural Science Primary School teachers show lack of competence in teaching the subject and developing materials for practical work (Lamanauskas, Vilkoniene and Vilconus, 2007: 59). Yet this is the most crucial state in the development of learner‘s mind and interest for future career choice. The level of propaedeutic knowledge on Chemistry acquired at this stage of primary education is crucial to the learners‘ Chemistry knowledge.
The teaching of Chemistry in Namibia starts at an early age of junior primary school level, where it is known as Integrated Natural Science education. The term―Chemistry‖ is, however, not used until at the junior secondary phase. Chemistry content intensifies with in Integrated Natural Science at senior primary level and it becomes more detailed in Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary level. Physical Science at Junior Secondary, level comprises of two sections; Physics and Chemistry. At the junior secondary level, the syllabi require intensive detailed practical work for each topic taught. At the senior secondary level the syllabi run over a two year period of Grades 11 and 12 with two levels of content (Higher level or Ordinary level) that learners must choose. The curriculum also makes provision for more practical work by allowing more time to practical work in the subject time allocation. This is also the same in South Africa whereby a subject like Physical Science has more teaching hours compared to others (Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement 2011: 6). Learners who wish to continue with Chemistry at tertiary level can do so at universities, polytechnics, colleges or vocational training institutions.

 Physical Science Subject policy

The purpose of the subject policy is to guide subject management in schools, but also leave scope for the teacher to be able to take his/her own initiative, especially in presenting the subject content and in facilitating learning (National Subject Policy for Physical Science, 2009: 1). The aim of the subject policy is to:

  • provide guidelines for subject managers in controlling teaching and learning activities;
  • guide teachers in organising their administrative duties and in planning teaching and learning to meet the expectations of the national standards and performance indicators;
  • provide guidelines for the effective teaching and management of Physical Science in the Junior and Senior Secondary phase at National level;
  • list some roles, responsibilities and accountability of the department heads, subject head and teachers within the Physical Science department of the school; and
  • provide an effective teaching of Physical Science in cooperation with existing manuals, policies, guides and procedural documents (as listed in the appendix) (National Subject Policy for Physical Science, 2009: 1).
  • Unlike the South African Physical Science policy, the Physical Science policy in Namibia does not have statements on how it will develop the learners through studying Physical Science that involves Physics and Chemistry. The South African Physical Science policy has the following aims with regards to the South African learners (Physical Science Subject Policy, 2011: 3).
  • Giving learners the ability to work in Scientific ways or to apply scientific principles which have proved effective in understanding and dealing with the natural and physical worlds in which they live;
  • Stimulating their curiosity, deepening their interest in the natural and physical worlds in which they live and guiding them to reflect on the universe;
  • Developing insights and respect for different scientific perspective and a sensitivity to cultural beliefs, prejudices and practices in society;
  • Developing useful skills and attitudes that will prepare learners for various situations in life, such as self-employment and entrepreneurial ventures and;
  • Enhancing understanding that the technological applications of the Physical Sciences should be used responsibly towards social, human, environmental and economic development both in South Africa and globally.

According to the National Subject Policy for Physical Science (2009: 2), the Namibian government has implemented Physical Science in their curriculum to accomplish the following goals among the learners:

  • acquire understanding and knowledge in Physical Science through a learner-centred approach;
  • acquire sufficient understanding and knowledge to become confident citizens in the technological world;
  • caring about the environment;
  • take or develop an informed interest in matters of scientific importance;
  • develop an awareness that the study of science is subject to social, economic, technological, ethical and cultural influences and limitations, and that the application of science may be both beneficial and detrimental to the individual, the community and the environment; and
  • be suitably prepared for studies beyond the Secondary level in pure sciences,  in applied science or in science-dependent vocational courses.

In the subject Policy there is a comprehensive guideline on what the syllabi should provide in the teaching and learning of Physical Science in Namibia. A syllabus is a course description for a subject within the curriculum. It is a concise and general statement of intended learning which describes the following:

  • the purpose of the subject – these are the rationale and aims which give the reason for and direction of the course
  • the content of the subject – this is described in terms of themes and topics;
  • objectives, defined in terms of what learning is intended to happen at the level of a subject;
  • competencies are the significant cognitive operations, skills, attitudes and values which all learners should be able to demonstrate, and which can be assessed; and
  • assessment describes how learner achievement will be assessed and how the course will be

It is the duties of school principals, managements and subject head to see to it that subject Policies of the ministry of education are implemented at class level and that all clauses are fully operational in their schools. This will help in the achievement of the Ministry of Education goal and objective in Physical Science.

Roles of the Namibian Government in providing education

Since independence in 1990 the Namibian government through the Ministry of Basic Education has provided the following structure and programmes in order for all Namibians to have access to education, (Education for All, National Plan of Action, 2001-2015, 2002; National Report on Development in Namibia, 2004 & Keyter, 2002: 2):

  1. a) Replacement of pre-independence Bantu education with new democratic based pedagogical methods of education;
  2. Total reformation of educational issues after independence with focus on―Toward Education for All‖ (TEFA) as the major objective
  3. Amalgamation of education authorities into a unified body;
  4. The establishment of two Ministries for the Namibia Education sector: Ministry of Basic Education (MBESC) and Ministry of Higher Education Vocational Training Science and Technology (MHEVTST) (The two ministries re-combined, March, 2005);
  5. Free and Compulsory Primary education for all Namibians regardless of any social, economic or ethnic back ground (Implemented in 2013);
  6. Introduction of semi-automatic policy in 1996, whereby learners are allowed to repeat only once in the school phase, except in Grade 10;
  7. Establishment of Namibia College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) to cater for Grade 10 and 12 drop outs on a distance level;
  8. Use of Continuous Assessment (CA) as criterion-based estimates of learners‘ progress;
  9. Establishment of National Inspectorate as a watch dog to guarantee quality education in the school system; and
  10. Establishment of non-formal education through lifelong learning, which is targeted at adults and out-of-school youths, with literacy as focal point.

Chapter 1
1. 1. Introduction
1.2. Background to the study .
1.3. The research problem
1.4. Aims of the study
1.5. Research questions.
1.6. Significance of the study
1.7. What is Chemistry Education
1.8. The relationship between Chemistry and practical work
1.9. The two main philosophy of teaching Chemistry
1.10. Positivism and practical work
1.11. Constructivism and practical work
1.12. Investigations as a process of learning Chemistry
1.13. Definitions of key terms and concepts
1.14. Chapter division
Chapter 2
2.1 Literature review on Chemistry Laboratory
2.2. Classroom environment
2.3. Laboratory, the skills it provide and the situation in Namibia
2.4. The nature of practical work
2.5. Teacher-Learner interaction
2.6. The background on the Science Laboratory Environment Inventory (SLEI)
2.8. Conclusion
Chapter 3
3.1. Education system in Namibia
3.2. Chemistry education
3.3. Roles of Namibian government in providing education
3.4. Learner Centred Education (LCE)
3.5. Teaching and learning
3.6. Conclusion
Chapter 4
4.1. Research Methodology
4.2. Preparation phase
4.3. Data collection phase
4.4. Implementation phase
4.5. Preparation and data analysis phase
4.6. Conclusion
Chapter 5
5.1. Introduction
5.2. Attitudes to Chemistry practicals Questionnaire (ACPQ) data analysis
5.3. Science Laboratory Environment Inventory (SLEI)
5.4. Questionnaire on teacher Interaction (QTI)
5.5 Integration of qualitative research in to quantitative research
5.6 Conclusion
Chapter 6
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Research question one
6.3. Research question two
6.4. Research question three
6.5. Research question four
6.6. Research question five
6.7. Research question six
6.8. Research question seven
6.9. Research question eight
6.10. Recommendation for further studies
6.11. Research limitations
6.12. Conclusions
References
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The Relationship between teacher-learner interaction and the laboratory learning environment during Chemistry practicals in Namibia.

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