“Criticism of the education system should not discourage us”

UNIVERSITY of Namibia (Unam) pro-vice chancellor for academic affairs, Frednand Gideon, said continued criticism of the country’s education system should not discourage educators and scholars.

“For a long time, our education system has been criticized. This criticism should not discourage us. This should encourage us to refine and increase our research efforts and to introduce and implement evidence-based strategies and approaches to address the challenges,” Gideon said.

He was speaking at the annual education conference at Unam South Campus in Keetmanshoop on Tuesday.

He said developments in the information and communication technology sector and unforeseen events such as the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to impact the learning and teaching environment.

Gideon said academics must therefore innovate and prepare for a time when learning and teaching will not happen in classrooms with a blackboard and should develop teaching materials and methodologies that speak to the online learning environment.

“As a university and as a country, we need to review our strategies and replan, only then can we pursue meaningful teacher education. But even then, the disparity in our learners’ access to e-learning becomes visible. Along the same lines, the lack of online readiness in terms of online skills and attitudes has become prominent as we reframed our strategies while learning about Covid-19,” Gideon said.

The conference is held under the theme “Reinventing education, its resilience, adaptability, inclusiveness and quality”. Faculty members from the Rundu, Hifikepunye Pohamba, Katima Mulilo, Khomasdal and Windhoek campuses, among others, are represented at the three-day conference, including scholars from South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia.

Professor Lischen!Haoses-Gorases, director of Unam South Campus, said the theme is a reminder to keep education on the higher education agenda to restore the basic principles that have been lost in education, innovating and adapting to the new environment.

! Haoses-Gorases said unity of purpose and movement together is needed as Covid-19 has forced the emergence of emergency resilient strategies and for the education fraternity to embrace Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies .

“In Namibia, tertiary institutions have adapted, but it left a lot to be desired in the sector and basic education institutions. It was a red flag that needed serious attention from everyone in the education fraternity. Keeping in mind our limited resources, we must rely on research to provide us with new ways,” said! Haoses-Gorases.

The conference attracted 91 abstracts in the fields of learning in higher education, basic education, and distance and lifelong learning disciplines. However, !Haoses-Gorases noted that she would also have liked to see articles on malnutrition, as this relates to Agenda 2063 and is a major challenge in the country.

“Malnutrition prevents our students in basic education from learning essential life skills, as we have single parent families, single mothers and runaway fathers,” the headmaster said.