The impact of school dropouts and the dismal performance of learners a national concern
Dear editor, the author shall for the purpose of this article present two inter-related educational matters of national concern of which one is on the recently revealed annual average number of school pupil dropouts and the other on the annual dismal performance of the grade 10 and 12 secondary school academic participants.
First and foremost it is very important to seriously take note that educating a nation with the aim to be an industrialized nation is not an easy task and that all those that take on this significant task sincerely hold the success or failure of that particular nation in their hands. Secondly, it is further important to take note that celebrating the academic achievement or performance of a small number of good achievers at the expense of a large number of academic failures is at the end of the day detrimental to the future socio-economic development and stability of that specific nation as it will with time be in a much worse situation than it is currently is. In retrospect, the more over time the majority of academic learners fail, the further away is the nation from achieving its broad national goals and the more the majority of academic learners pass, the closer the nation is to achieve it national goals.
The startling revelation this week by the Ministry of Education on the annual school pupil dropouts needs further analysis and assessment. The average dropout number of about 50, 000 learners per year from the school bus into the potential wilderness of poverty and destitution warrants an official investigation and an immediate remedial by the relevant authorities. Albeit it being a national challenge, it is of significant importance to by all means necessary attempt to reverse this trend as the future consequences taking into account the already prevailing state of high youth unemployment, widespread poverty and destitution across the land of the brave do not look too good for the future well-being of the country.
The average annual school learner dropout figures as documented for the years 2008 (46 372), 2009 (47 701), 2010 (44,172), 2011 (49,240), 2012 (45,775), 2013 (53,000) and 2014 (44,272) respectively are just too much to bear as a nation and this very sad situation should going forward warrant some very serious intervention by all concerned as the future socio-economic implications on the country could be very devastating.
The author will hence at this juncture take note of the various important reasons cited as contributors to this dismal sad state of affairs but those reasons should still not allow a situation that sadly witnesses a whole generation of young people ignorantly volunteering their lives to a worthless future of dependency and destitution whilst Namibia as their motherland has all the necessary mineral resources and the full potential to mitigate and reverse the situation.
Yes, the country has many other challenges but the Namibian government has for the sake of making education assessable to more people gone a step further to make public primary and secondary education free of charge across the country for its citizens. Such positive initiatives should be fully embraced by all members of society to such an extent that respective parents or guardians not accept nor allow any of their children to drop out from school as that could further disadvantage the child from future employment opportunities and a dignified life.
The second most worrying trend which has been observed in recent many years is the dismal poor academic performance of our grade 10 and 12 learners, a situation which slowly but surely moves the country more backwards than forward. Despite these worrying trends, our education planners and authorities seem to have a no care, no worry attitude celebrating the marginal yearly academic performances which in the medium to long term are sadly to the detrimental state of the nation.
Our governance system despite the terrible results as performed and achieved by our learners over the years holds no one responsible and accountable and as a consequence, the same negative trend seems to continue damaging the future of our kids and the nation in the process. In that regard, the appointing authorities should move towards an academic performance based system for all school principals and heads of department, and consequences should be meted out to those that do not meet the stipulated targets as playing with the lives of the young ones is tantamount to destroying the future of the nation.
Going forward, one of the major challenges that is highly ignored within such sad state of educational affairs is that the academic content quality aspect of those that marginally passed is not further assessed and analyzed by the relevant authorities, resulting further in a poorer and less productive future labour workforce to the long term detrimental effect of the state of the nation. The quality aspect is crucially important as therein lies the fundamentals towards an industrialized progressive nation.
The Namibian government at the onset of the nation’s independence made education the number one priority and despite huge financial investments, the country has been harrowing around an average performance pass rate of below 40% in both grade 10 and 12 which strongly indicates that something is terribly and seriously wrong somewhere.
Education is the cornerstone towards the economic growth and development of any nation that wishes to aspire to be an industrialized and competitive nation among others and all efforts should hence therefore be put in place by all means necessary to reverse such negative trends. Young people are further the future human backbones towards the building of nations and an educated nation in large numbers should be encouraged as that can contribute towards the large-scale reduction of poverty and destitution as most people would have learned and earned the basic educational fundamentals to survive. The ability to read, comprehend and write are the starting blocks to self-reliance and towards a meaningful and dignified life away from dependency and apathy. The motivation, ability and support for our young people to fully complete their primary and secondary school cycles should hence at all times be highly encouraged.
• Pendapala Hangala is a Namibian patriot.