Namibia’s Curriculum Is a Puzzle –

Former education ministers are on a warpath over the conundrum created by the new curriculum, which has seen thousands of learners thrown out on the streets, and their school futures in disarray.

Nahas Angula says his successors tampered with sacred industry when it was unnecessary.

Opposite is Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, the former cabinet minister who chaired the education portfolio when the curriculum review was in its infancy.

She inherited the ministry of David Namwandi.


In 2011, the late Abraham Iyambo, then Minister of Education, organized an education indaba to, among other things, review the curriculum.

“Now we have spoken. Let it be action. Action. And action,” is an echoing Iyambo slogan.

His then-Lieutenant Namwandi served briefly in that role, following Iyambo’s death in 2013.

The conference cost taxpayers N$7 million.


A decade later, the curriculum implemented leaves much to be desired.

This year alone, around 80% of Grade 11 students did not meet the requirements to advance to Grade 12, also known as the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) level. They were pushed into the streets for failing to meet the entry requirements for local universities and were encouraged to pursue studies in technical fields.

Some are between a rock and a hard place because they cannot repeat a full-time year because of their age.


Angula laid the foundation for education in Namibia. He transformed the sector of what had been inherited from apartheid South Africa, overseeing the first revision of the country’s curriculum and its subsequent implementation.

“Unfortunately, every new minister wants to change things all the time for whatever reason,” he said.

After leaving the portfolio, he always warned his successors to handle education with special care, he added.

“During the education conference hosted by the late Dr Iyambo, I made an official statement, warning that there is nothing wrong with the structure of the education system. What needs to be done, c is to focus on how to improve the quality,” he said.

This depends on a series of issues: improving the learning environment, equitable supply of teaching materials, sufficient budget allocation, decent school management and teacher competence.

His plea fell on deaf ears, he said, defending the previous scheme and saying it was compared to other Commonwealth jurisdictions.

“That’s why we moved to Cambridge from the Cape Town matrix system, which only catered to those with resources. We were big on mass education. Not the elite way,” a- he repeated.

As Angula tries to justify himself from the current educational quagmire, things have started to fall apart under his rule, it is said.

A mass exodus of Year 10 dropouts ensued, with the subsequent introduction of the Namibian College of Open Learning (Namcol) in 1997 achieving limited success. Many victims, now in their late 40s, are without jobs or education, critics note.

Yet more people point out that the investment in education, including Namcol, leaves much to be desired when juxtaposed with the resources invested over the years.

beyond reproach

For its main executor, the program is almost perfect.

“It’s a very good journal because it has raised the standards of education,” Hanse-Himarwa argued.

The outspoken politician is perplexed by the fuss over the program.

“It’s the fifth time it’s been revised,” she said, noting that education must continually evolve.

At independence, the new government made a big mistake, she said. “We threw the baby out with the bathwater. Maybe we were fed up with the South African apartheid regime and thought everything they did should be thrown away…but moving forward, we realized we had made a mistake.”

The government has turned a blind eye to technical and vocational education and the schools equipped to deliver it.

“At this conference on education, it was strongly [recommended] that technical subjects must be reintroduced. It has become a resolution that a review of the program is necessary. Another outcry was the general level of education,” she said.

Angula agreed.

Hanse-Himarwa played down claims that the implementation of the new program was rushed, saying it was done phase by phase.


With the abolition of the grade 10 certificate, there was chaos, Angula said, as it was the highest mark of all schools combined.

“This prompted the ministry to add grade 11 to the combined schools,” Angula pointed out.

The scenario created another dilemma: “Teachers in coeducational schools were trained to teach up to 10th grade, not 11th grade. This means that the quality of teaching has dropped.”

“They say people should go to Namcol, but this institution was not structured for that. [grade 11 failures]. Namcol has been structured to meet the needs of those who do not do well at the junior high school level.”

AS level dilemma

The introduction of the AS level caused a stir in education circles. Some say it’s a waste of resources and time, while others say it’s discriminatory.

For Hanse-Himarwa, who is a trained teacher, grade 11 is the new matric.

“Grade 11 is now an exit grade for learners taking mainstream subjects at formal education level and can be accepted to any university,” she said.

She added, “I would call Grade 11 the old Grade 12 O-level because at Ordinary Grade 12, you can get out there. I want to call AS, Affiliate Advanced, the top level. “

She ignored the discriminatory label: “[AS] can be gifted learners or hard workers who want to get into specific career fields,” she said.

Budget specific

The former governor of Hardap highlighted two major obstacles to the implementation of the program: insufficient resources and a lack of information.

To solve this problem, the government must have a budget specifically for the deployment of the program. With the new curriculum came the need for specialist teachers, equipment, additional classrooms and technical facilities.