Namibia is one of the highest spenders on education in the world and the allocation of 28.4% to the education sector in the 2023/24 financial year equates to 9.6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Concern has, however, been expressed that the actual education outcomes and return on these investments over time are “not at all commensurate with expectations.”
The allocation for the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has been increased from N$13.78 in the 2022/23 budget to N$16.8 billion in the 2023/24 financial year. Primary education accounts for 64.4% of the budget, secondary education for 24.7% and pre-primary education for 3.5%. The number of learners at 1,726 public schools has increased from 819,750 in 2022 to 864,632 in 2023. Education Minister Anna Nghipondoka pointed out in her ministry’s 2023/24 budget motivation speech that the increase in learner enrolment necessitates the employment of more teachers and hence an increase in personnel expenditure. Nearly 80% of the ministry’s budget goes towards personnel expenditure for 35,800 teaching staff and 2,500 non-teaching staff, leaving only 20% for operational expenditure.
More than N$200 million has been earmarked in the 2023/24 financial year for the recruitment of 850 additional teachers to improve the teacher-learner ratios in classrooms. Nearly 63,000 boarders are accommodated at 238 public school hostels countrywide. The ministry also provides financial assistance to 115 community-owned and church-based hostels.
Over N$570 million has been allocated to the ministry’s development budget for the construction and renovation of classrooms, as well as other education infrastructure such as hostels and offices. Minister Nghipondoka said the ministry intends to construct 510 classrooms and 70 ablution blocks at schools countrywide as a matter of urgency through public-to-public procurement engagements. She also announced that the ministry would start with the procurement of works for the construction of three schools, two boarding schools and four hostel facilities. The ministry, however, needs about N$2.5 million to build about 4,479 permanent classrooms, while there is also a shortage of 1,176 hostel blocks and 15,000 beds at hostels.
In his February 2023/24 budget speech, Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi pointed out that the education sector continues to absorb a growing share of the national purse. “Of the total expenditure this year, 28.4% is earmarked for the education sector. This equates to 9.6% of the GDP, making Namibia one of the highest spenders on education the world over. And yet the actual education outcomes and return on these investments over time are not at all commensurate with our expectations. We need to get more value for every dollar spent on education. While there are gaps in terms of education infrastructures that need urgent attention, I also believe there is great scope for increased efficiencies in the utilisation of the current budget. The problem in education is not simply one of a lack of resources,” the minister said.
NAMIBIAN COLLEGE OF OPEN LEARNING
The Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) was allocated N$120 million for the 2023/24 financial year. NAMCOL has over 25,000 Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary (NSSCO) level and Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Advanced Subsidiary (NSSCAS)registered learners. The college offers secondary, tertiary, technical vocational education and training, as well as short courses for adults and out-of-school learners who cannot attend school full-time or want to improve their examination results.
EXAMINATION RESULT SHOCK
The results of the 2022 NSSCO examinations drew widespread criticism. Only 5,812 out of a total of 38,019 full-time candidates who sat the NSSCO examination obtained the required 25 points or higher to register at tertiary institutions, while 8,133 (21.4%) of the candidates qualified for the NSSCAS level in 2023.
The dismal results prompted President Hage Geingob to ask the education minister to provide a detailed report on the poor results. In the report handed to the president, the results were partly attributed to the significant loss of face-to-face teaching and learning time at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the poor state of education infrastructure, the shortage of classrooms and teaching and learning resources, as well as the absence of systematic support at the school level for teachers and learners.
The Higher Education Vote has been allocated N$3.7 billion for operational expenses in the 2023/24 financial year, an increase of 9.8% on the 2022/23 allocation of N$3.25 billion. The University of Namibia (UNAM) has been allocated N$892 million, while the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) will receive N$492 million. The ministry’s budget for development expenditure has been increased from N$77 million in 2022/23 to N$135 million in the 2023/24 financial year. The increased allocation goes towards funding for the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), the completion and operationalisation of vocational training centres and to equip the UNAM School of Medicine with the necessary equipment to facilitate training at the School of Dentistry.
About 38,000 students are registered at eight vocational training centres in the country, while construction of three new vocational training centres at Keetmanshoop, Khorixas and Nkurenkuru are targeted for completion during the 2023/24 financial year. The Kai//Ganaxab VTC in the Hardap Region, which previously resorted under the Ministry of Youth, is also expected to become operational this year.
NAMIBIA STUDENTS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FUND
The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) received an appropriation of N$1.6 billion to fund new and current loans to undergraduate, post-graduate and TVET students for the 2023/24 financial year. The fund received 30,124 applications for 2023, an increase of 30% from 2022, and after verification a total of 22,178 students (74%) were found to be eligible for funding.
The fund, however, continues to struggle to recover a N$4.2 billion debt owed by 88,640 loan defaulters. A temporary amnesty on loan repayments and a waiver of N$2.6 billion interest on all loans during the amnesty period to encourage loan repayment between 1 July 2022 and 30 June 2023 have largely been ignored.
NSFAF, which was established as a state-owned enterprise in 2013, will be dissolved and integrated as a department into the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation. A deadline of 31 December 2023 has been set for the integration.
Center for Global Education
P O Box 21324, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 228 773
Institute for Management and Leading Training
P O Box 22524, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 230 555
Junior Achievement Namibia
P O Box 1596, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 221 140
NAMCOL – Namibia College of Open Learning
Private Bag 15007, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 270 9100
National Examinations and Assessment
Private Bag 13186, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 293 4437 / 4435
Namibia Association for Literacy and Adult Education (Rossing Foundation)
P O Box 20746, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 280 9111
NIMT – Namibia Institute of Mining Technology
Private Bag 5025, Swakopmund
Tel: +264 64 511 800
NANSO – Namibia National Students Organisations
P O Box 22013, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 685 2424
NSFAF – Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund
P O Box 22013, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 434 6000
NQA – Namibia Qualifications Authority
Private Bag 13247, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 384 100
NCHE – National Council for Higher Education
P O Box 90890, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 307 012
NIED – National Institute for Educational Development
Private Bag 2034, Okahandja
Tel: +264 62 509 000
TUCSIN – The University Center for Studies in Namibia
P O Box 11174, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 224 840
UNESCO – United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation
Private Bag 13406, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 435 6013
WVTC – Windhoek Vocational Training Center
Private Bag 13334, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 211 742 / 3
Namibia Training Authority
P O Box 70407, Windhoek
Tel: +264 61 207 8550