By Stephanie Brooks – AfricanBrains
According to an article written by the New Era, Namibian schools are preparing to provide free, compulsory education at the primary level. Though the country has professed free compulsory education for children aged 6 to 16 for the past decade; parents were still required to pay fees in order to send their children to school.
The decision was reached by Dr. Abraham Iyambo, who serves as the Minister of Education; and although the initiative has been received positively by educators and parents, the actual execution of the plan will be no easy task.
The implementation of the initiative will present challenges as 13 regions are restructured to include the new provisions. The Ministry has expressed that careful monitoring and planning will be needed to successfully support that transition and accommodate new students.
Namibia’s education system currently relies largely on parent contributions to fund supplies and activities, and there are concerns that the N$50 million allocated for the current school year will not be enough to support the influx of students that will respond to free education.
Schools will still be required to generate funds and operate on some level of self-sustainability, whether through parent contributions or assistance from private companies. However, most Namibians are willing to invest in learning institutions, and free education holds the potential to transform poor, vulnerable children into productive adults.
In fact, next year the Ministry of Education will receive N$9.8 billion, almost 24 percent of the nation’s entire budget. This financial focus on education is planned to continue for three years, a target date that will coincide with the international community’s deadline for achieving universal primary education.