Flipside — Chris Jacobie
NAMIBIANS will be wise and responsible citizens to respect the appeal of the President, Dr Hage Geingob, not to play the blame game about the disappointing examination results and the undeniable poor image of education.
Society will pay a much higher price if the education controversy lands in the political pot where some are already stoking the fires of populism and self-interest.
The politics of factionalism, regionalism and tribalism will surely follow.
Every Namibian in general, including education directors, political appointees and all kinds of foreign donors and experts, must pause, investigate, consider and act collectively on an issue that is of national interest.
Education is undoubtedly the central nervous system of Namibia and in case society forgets — the results not only reflect a dramatic failure — it confirms a ministry where the arrogance of leadership on various levels acts like an unlicensed taxi driver skipping every yellow traffic light and when the inevitable accident follows, the driver flees the scene.
The accountable, on all levels should now be busy compiling the report that Dr Geingob requested for him so that deliberation and reflection by Cabinet can follow. That is why education officials contradicting themselves on every level must stop.
In Windhoek, education authorities are still busy with a three-year U-turn and explanations on why free education is not feasible, but the Oshikoto director, Aletta Eises, according to the State Media, encourages parents in Ongwediwa not to pay school development fees since education is “free”.
The list of official double-talk, excuses, passing the buck, demonizing parents and teachers defy comprehension and is endless.
This behaviour, is close to contempt of Dr. Geingob, who till today is still a passionate teacher and even before Independence, served as the Director of the United Nations Institute of Namibia in Zambia.
The whole of the education cadre – not only the management — should be busy compiling a Presidential report.
The double talk by education managers in their headquarters and the regions at best demonstrates a lack of coordination and at worst reflects that the decentralization of functions is a monumental error where the intentions were good, but the outcome – a spectacular failure.
It now seems that certain regions have become a dumping site for all kinds of incompetence and arrogance.
The first casualty of the double talk is not the ones that had the privilege to attend school for the past 11 to 12-years and did not use the opportunities.
The real victims and lambs led to slaughter are the thousands of wide-eyed innocent grade-zero and grade one learners with their brand-new oversized uniforms and books and who through their tears show resilience and exuberance that make a grown man weep.
To carpet bomb communities at the various regional education headquarters and supposed ministerial managers of contradiction, proves the culture of a pandemic of non-accountability on nearly all levels exist.
If the requests of Dr Geingob were a comprehension test and the reaction from the Ministry of Education the answers, management would have failed their first test spectacularly.
The Geingob-leadership is clearly misunderstood. He is taking responsibility and carries the burden. It is more than the whole N$14-billion enterprise is prepared to consider. The head of Government is seeking solutions and is involving the whole nation. He is seeking answers, because he, like most Namibians, was brought under a different impression on many occasions last year and that is why the failure rate is a shock to the nation.
In the darkest hour all he sees is the light shining through a widening crack in the communication and credibility gap between those who govern and those that are governed.
What the ministry refuses to understand is that the President wants to unite through challenge and adversity and stop the growing potential of factionalism and regionalism that is already appearing on the landscape.
Namibians should stubbornly refuse that politics become an obstacle in establishing good governance on all levels and especially in education.
The problem is elsewhere and a report and further investigations by the President will identify the weak points.
No Namibian, even those with the most basic education, can be convinced that politics or politicians are to blame.
Former Prime Minister, Nahas Angula, Vice-president, Nangolo Mbumba, Minister of Works, John Mutorwa, Dr Abraham Iyambo and Dr David Namwandi, boast excellent educational pedigrees before and after Independence. Dr, Namwandi later established IUM on various campuses from the South to the North.
These educators could not all have been wrong while the management, advisors and foreign experts are right.
Education is the right place to start.
Even if the training of the mind fails for various different reasons, the beating of the Namibian heart will never fail and the nation will overcome.