By Dominic Sikopo
One on one interview with Mr. Austin Samupwa, The Acting Education Director in Caprivi region to get his views on the current state of education in the Caprivi region.
CVNEWS: Could you tell us more on the Grade 10 and 12 results that were released recently, as it turned out that the nation did not perform well as compared to the previous year?
Mr. Samupwa: Grade 12 learners in Caprivi did not perform very well and this is not good for us considering that for the last five years we have been moving up, we came from position 12 then we climbed to 11, 10, 8 and then we were at number 6 in 2011 then in 2012 we were back to 8 which means that the results are not good and Grade 10 as well, we moved from position 3 with a pass rate of 59.3 percent to position 6 with a pass rate of 52.2 percent that also is not good for us.
CVNEWS: So in view of this, what do you think was the problem that brought about the increase in failure?
Mr. Samupwa: Through the years we have established a rhythm of work which was disturbed last year…for example some people went for studies, transport was another issue as we could not get our professional staff to go into schools and assist in terms of advisory teachers and inspectors.
CVNEWS: Which schools performed better and poor in Caprivi region in 2012 academic year ?
Sauzuo was number one ( 1) , schools like Impalila ,Sisheke, Sachinga all performed well as they are all in the 90% and above. In terms of Grade 12, Caprivi Senior Secondary School performed the best.
CVNEWS: We received concerns from Katima Combined School that it is without teachers teaching Afrikaans from Grade 6 – 10 since last year, why?
Mr. Samupwa: The Afrikaans issue has been a headache at Katima since Independence, as you may know it was a former whites only school before Independence where Afrikaans was offered, the new government did not want to abolish Afrikaans because of the cosmopolitan nature of this town where you get other people who were not born here in Caprivi, some come here for work others come and settle for one reason or the other and these people might not be very conversant in siLozi which we use here, they might be more comfortable in Afrikaans as their first language. With the creation of the Zambezi Private School many of the teachers who used to offer Afrikaans moved to that private school, we retained Afrikaans but with difficulties, we get teachers but they resign at times, we even went to an extent of going to those teachers who retired where we would give them a contract of one year but sometimes before the contract comes to an end they opt out of the contract so it is a problem but I am aware one teacher who was there was promoted to Otjozondjupa and since then we have been advertising the post with no success. But I have personally spoken to some teachers that I know and there is hope that we might get a teacher for Afrikaans.
CVNEWS: ….And on the Exam Paper scandal that made headlines in 2012, it has been discovered recently that more than 200 learners are involved than initially thought, what negative impact has this had on the Namibian education system particularly here in the Caprivi region and what precautionary measures should be put in place to ensure that nothing of this nature ever happens again?
Mr. Samupwa: The first investigation only revealed that only 23 learners were involved that is less than two percent of all the registered learners in the region, the (education) minister made a statement to the nation and those who were found guilty were suspended for one year, presently there was an investigation but it was not confined to caprivi alone but to other regions as well but it is only suspicions for now.
They have just finished with their investigations and we are still waiting for the outcome to know whether these suspected learners indeed copied as alleged. We have measures in place since Independence to make sure that papers do not leak but somehow because we work with human beings we find papers leaking but it is not only in Namibia but all over the world, in some countries we have a system were different question papers in case if one leaks then bring the second or third paper but we haven’t come to that point as Namibians as we do not have that much leakage of papers as it happens once in a while but not overwhelmingly as it will be a very small fraction of people, so measures are there and are in place and we do have secure buildings but as i said we work with people and sometimes you find people who try to bend rules in order to get what they want.
CVNEWS: The Namibian government recently announced and put into law that all primary level learners will no longer have to spend on stationeries as this will be provided for by the state, your opinion on this is it good or bad?
Well I have to agree that this is good because it is constitutional as article 20, sub article 1 in the Namibian constitution clearly says that primary education shall be free(offered by the state), since 1990 we have not fulfilled this obligation in other words we have not followed our constitution so we are just following the constitution and i believe that the majority of people in caprivi and Namibia at large because some of them cannot afford, a study that we conducted through another body revealed that about 11.3 percent of children do not go to school because of the school development fund and we want everyone to have the equal opportunity to go to school.
CVNEWS: Schools just recently re-opened for the 2013 academic year, what is the ministry planning to do to make sure that we have a better performance than that of 2012?
Looking at the factors, last year on the 13th of December the regional management team of the directorate of education which i am the chairperson met as we had already predicted that these results are not going to be good looking at the trends during the past year and we had already decided that before schools re-open, we to call our school and regional managers, principals and deputy principals and HODs and here at regional level we called in Inspectors, advisory teachers, support services meaning finance and human resource and administration and everyone who works here at regional office level we met and talked about the performance, we identified factors some of which i have already mentioned that led to the drop in performance and then we put up an action plan, so that action plan is in place now from the meeting and it has been given to all schools.
CVNEWS: There are still concerns to Grade 10 full –time repeaters among school learners and parents in Caprivi region, would you justify these cases?
If you fail you are not allowed to repeat except if you are 17 years old and below
Subject of availability of space where you were, but if you are above 17 then you have to seek other means like Namcol.
CVNEWS: Your final remarks to the people and particularly to the learners?
Mr. Samupwa: Firstly to my directorate office, I have informed all section of the directorate that this year we are changing the way we work in order to salvage the situation in our schools for the sake of our learners. In 2012 we were caught by circumstances and found ourselves going down and lastly I would like to inform teachers that they must teach, they must use the available time to have contact with their learners so that the syllabuses are completed in good time so that there is enough time or revision…there must be total commitment starting from the teachers themselves, the learners who are the recipients of the benefits of the system and the parents as a support mechanism to the teaching system. We would like to see schools teaching in the morning, in the afternoon. Learners should be disciplined and be self-regulatory.