HUNDREDS of literacy promoters responsible for certain aspects of adult education in Namibia might be left without a means of income after deep seated dishonesty was uncovered by an in depth assessment executed by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MEAC).
According to Sanet Steenkamp, the Executive Director of the education ministry, the number of literacy promoters employed on a contract basis by the MEAC increased with almost a thousand within over the last five years while the number of learners has decreased has resulted in an annual salary bill well in excess of N$62 million.
She said that in some cases the students and the promoters conspired to inflate the number of students. Other promoters brought their students who successful completed the school education under the impression that they would receive some form of skills training that would enable them to apply for jobs.
“The assessment was done in all 14 regions of Namibia and showed that certain literacy promoters manipulated the system to ensure that they had more students registered than was actually attending their classes. In some cases promoters never even lectured due to a complete lack of supervision from the regional education directors or their staff. They, however claimed their monthly dues as if they did lecture,” Steenkamp said.
She said the ministry spends more than N$62 million per year in remuneration of these literacy promoters and because their numbers have gone up and the number of their students has gone down the situation has become untenable.
“We have taken tangible steps to stop the practice and because the literacy promoters are working on ten month contracts, those who have been dishonest, will only work out their current contracts without the option to renew their agreements. In the meantime we have also started in all urgency to develop a new policy which would see to better regulation of adult educators.”
Steenkamp indicated that stricter measures will also apply to the regional directorates to keep an eye on the activities of literacy promoters.
Given this reality, the Ministry had to act to mitigate the situation and two solutions were put forth. One was to tighten the recruitment criteria the second was the introduction of the allocation quotas. After deliberation on this during the July 2019 Review Meeting the quota allocation per region was opted for unanimously.
Steenkamp said he quota allocation will ensure that regional authorities will assess the needs for literacy classes and allocate accordingly the promoter as per the need and the number of adult learners that have indicated interest in enrolling in the programmes.
Over the years the core focus of the programme has been the provision of basic literacy programs with the assistance from development partners. To realise this, the Ministry has developed programs that were deemed best suited to arrest illiteracy amongst the communities namely, National Literacy Programme (NLPN), Adult Upper Primary Education (AUPE), Family Literacy (FL), Adult Skills Development for Self Employment (ASDSE) and Community Learning Development Centres (CLDC) to mention but a few.