Namibia’s expenditure on education ranks among the highest in the world, and expenditure per learner per year is nearly three times higher than the world average. Education has consistently been allocated the largest share of the national budget. As a percentage of GDP it is nearly double the global average of 5%.
The right to education is enshrined as a fundamental human right in the Namibian Constitution. Basic education is compulsory for children from the age of six until they have completed primary school, or have reached the age of 16, whichever comes first. Primary education at state schools is free of charge, but does not include uniforms, stationery or hostel accommodation.
Education was identified as one of three priority areas by the cabinet at the end of 2020. One of the goals under the Social Progression Pillar of the Harambee Prosperity Plan II is to improve access to quality education and sport. The means to achieve this are:
- Improvement and expansion of the education infrastructure
- Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD)
- Improved quality of higher education and Technical & Vocational Education & Training (TVET)
- Professionalisation of sports
The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is responsible for the “… provision of an accessible, equitable, qualitative and democratic national education service.” Basic education is offered in several phases: junior primary (preprimary, grades 1 – 3), senior primary (grades 4 – 7), junior secondary (grades 8 & 9) and senior secondary (grades 10 – 12). The introduction of a Cambridge International Advanced Level (A Level, grade 13) is envisaged for 2022.
Some 804,000 learners attended the 1,920 schools throughout the country in 2020, while the number of teachers stood at 30,766. Despite the large annual budgetary allocation for basic education, the provision and maintenance of schools and hostels are major technical and financial challenges, especially in far-flung rural areas.
The ministry is also responsible for adult education and the education for learners with special needs through the Division of LifeLong Learning. It is also the line ministry responsible for the Directorates of Arts and Culture, and Heritage Programmes. The National Heritage Council of Namibia, the Museums Association of Namibia and the Owela Museum are part of the culture division, while the Directorate of Arts oversees and supports the National Art Gallery of Namibia, the National Theatre of Namibia, the National Arts Council of Namibia and the College of the Arts.
The constitution also makes provision for private schools and colleges. Currently there are more than 120 private schools countrywide. They are not required to follow the national curriculum but they must register with the education ministry and their own curriculum must be approved.
Tertiary education falls under the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation, whose mandate is “… to regulate higher education and to promote training and innovation in order to drive Namibia towards a knowledge based economy.” Namibia has two state-funded universities: the University of Namibia (UNAM) and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), as well as a private institution, the International University of Management. They offer an extensive range of qualifications, complying with international standards, up to doctorate degrees.
UNAM maintains 12 campuses countrywide, including four teachers’ training colleges and two agricultural colleges. It has over 30,000 students and provides online support to distance-learning students. NUST has a campus in Windhoek and ten regional centres countrywide, and currently a little more than 11,000 students.
The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), a statutory body, provides loans or grants to eligible Namibian students at approved institutions of higher learning. Beneficiaries are required to repay the money upon completion of their studies. In 2020 the NSFAF assisted over 14,000 students financially. The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), a statutory body, is responsible for quality assurance at public and private institutions of higher education. This includes the accreditation of higher education programmes and audits of institutions.
NAMIBIA QUALIFICATIONS AUTHORITY
An extensive variety of courses and qualifications at various levels is offered by private educational institutions registered by the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA), a statutory body. Its functions include the accreditation of persons, institutions and organisations providing education, courses of instruction or training, as well as the registration of qualifications with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). A total of 58 training institutions were accredited with the NQA at the end of 2020.
THE NAMIBIA TRAINING AUTHORITY
Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) has been prioritised by the government. The Namibia Training Authority (NTA), a statutory body, is responsible for the effective regulation, funding and quality assurance of TVET. TVET is provided at eight vocational training centres (VTCs) run by the NTA, while several private businesses also offer a variety of trade and specialised training courses.
Businesses with an annual payroll exceeding N$1 million are obliged to register with the NTA and pay the equivalent of 1% of their monthly payroll to the NTA. Employers can claim back a maximum of 50% of expenses for vocational training once a year provided they meet certain requirements. 35% of the levy is allocated to key priority grants, the remaining 15% is used to cover the NTA’s administration costs.
MINISTRY OF HIGHER EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
Minister Hon. Dr. Itha Kandjii- Murangi
The mandate of the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation is to regulate higher education and promote training and innovation in order to drive Namibia towards a knowledge-based economy.
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, ARTS & CULTURE
Minister Hon. Ester Anna Nghipondoka
The Ministry strives for continuous improvement in quality inclusive education, teaching and learning, improved learning outcomes, and the production of an educated and skilled workforce needed for a productive and competitive Nation. The Ministry continues to provide equitable inclusive education to 755 943 learners. The Ministry employs 29 391 teachers who are teaching at 1,884 government and government-aided schools.