On 11 January 2017, 1796 schools at pre-primary, primary, secondary phases nationwide will officially open for this academic year. It is my sincere wish that everyone will return from the holidays, well rested, with renewed energy and a strong sense of work ethics, embracing the new year with all it has to offer.
Education is an important tool for development, and so, our prime aim as a Ministry is to ensure that every Namibian child receives inclusive quality education, charge-free, as we are mandated by Article 20 of the Namibian Constitution, for that reason, all children of school going age are welcomed back school and even more critical, urged to remain in school. I wish to congratulate all learners who have made it to the next grade. I encourage you to commit yourselves to learning and skills development, respecting your teachers, caring and sharing love on school grounds. For the learners who have not made it to the next grade, it is imperative that you do not give up. Take up the challenge in 2017 to improve and excel academically. You have the potential to rise above the rest and be the best. All learners should ensure that from the very start, time is set aside for reading, homework and revision. This will eventually pay off.
To the first time learners, the first encounter in a classroom may be intimidating at first, but I can assure parents that their children are at the right place- to acquire knowledge, create new friendships as well as grow intellectually and emotionally.
A special welcome goes to our teachers, school principals and all educators. The Ministry would like to once more commend you, our teachers and school principals for educating, shaping and molding our children. May I take this opportunity to appeal to all educators- to continue grooming future leaders with passion, dedication and care. On its part, the Ministry will continue striving for improved service delivery as well as introducing initiatives that are geared towards improving the status and livelihood of our teachers. Teachers are the backbone of education in Namibia, and I have great respect for your efforts in shaping the future generation and simultaneously promoting national development. In the meantime, I would also like to urge eligible temporary teachers to fully embrace and maximize on training opportunities availed to them through the In-Service Teacher Education Diploma in Junior Primary Education for unqualified and under-qualified teachers.
Equally, the provision of quality education calls for strong partnerships and support system to create a conducive learning environment for all learners. I believe in teamwork and harmonious working relationships. I therefore call on parents and guardians to accord unwavering support and commitment towards their children’s education, and meet government half way in its quest to provide inclusive quality education. Let us join hands and make education a shared responsibility to aim for an unforgettable academic experience and an excellent pass rate in all phases.
In the same vain, I would also like to invite all our stakeholders and partners towards active, critical engagement and dialogue for continued support. This could be done through interventions such as the “Friends of Education” Initiative, which I am set to launch very soon. The aim of the “Friends of Education” initiative is to advocate and garner support towards education, arts and culture from corporate and all stakeholders. Together, we should collectively be able to achieve our goal to educate and train the Namibian child and equip them to shape their future. Certainly, the journey to success in education will demand that we spend our time and creativity in a purposeful way, that is, the delivery of Quality Education.
In terms of policy and legislation, the Ministry completed the review exercise of the Education Act, conducted with financial and technical support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the European Union (EU). The reviewed Education Act shall ensure inclusive, equitable access, participation and equity in education towards quality teaching and learning in Namibia. The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture would like the support of all stakeholders to ensure that the Bill is enacted into an Act of Parliament during 2017.
Complementary, following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals- Goal 4 in April, the Ministry has aligned its policies which speak to inclusivity in the education sector; addressing the issues of access to education; equity; efficiency, quality, lifelong learning and democracy. Therefore, the Ministry will continue to strongly advocate for support in respect to the Sustainable Development Goals - more specific GOAL 4 that requires of us to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
On that note, I would like to welcome all the learners, teachers, school principals, inspectors, school board members, hostels staff, directors, valued-stakeholders and the esteemed readers to the 2017 school year. May the year 2017 be a year of sacrifices and sound dedication and hard-work to ultimately provide inclusive, quality and accessible education to all as enshrined in the Namibian Constitution and the Education Act (no. 16 of 2001).
We continue, as a Ministry to pledge our commitment to tackle our tasks head on and to march forth with our mandate of equipping our learners with the top quality skills and knowledge that will ultimately turn them into a skilled work force and responsible citizens of our beloved country. Let us ‘’Deliver with speed for the prosperity of all Namibians.”
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