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Education in Northern Namibia

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					LearnLink                                                  1
                                   Summer 2001




LearnLink

                                          Jeffrey Goveia
               Improving
             Education in
                Northern
                Namibia:
                              Using “IT”
            for Professional Development
                             and Support




             LearnLink Project, AED
             1825 Connecticut Avenue NW
             Washington, DC 20009
             Fax: (202) 884-8979
             Email: learnlink@aed.org
             www.aed.org/learnlink
A
         fter its independence
         from South Africa in
         1990, Namibia was beset
with challenges, many emerging
from the vestiges of apartheid’s
social and economic policies.
Even after a smooth transition to                  Namibia
democracy and the formation of a
democratically elected government,
wide disparities in social and
economic development persisted,
bolstered by an inequitable
education system.

The government addressed the
education problem by establishing
a new Ministry of Education, which            concerned with educational resources
eventually separated higher education         and development.
from primary and secondary education.
The government also consolidated many
smaller divisions and took steps to enhance                 ENTER ”IT”
the relevancy of Namibian education for
                                              Although shortchanged in access to
its new society.
                                              economic and development opportunities,
Also reformed was the National Institute      Namibia has the advantage of an
for Education Development (NIED).             information and communication technology
Supported by the Ministry of Basic            (IT) infrastructure unsurpassed by almost
Education, Sport and Culture (MBESC),         any nation in Africa. Linked by fiber optic
NIED is now a “think tank” for mobilizing     cable to South Africa’s satellite system, the
resources for the betterment of education.    nation is in a very good position to
Its two divisions undertake education         introduce IT into education.
research and develop the nation’s primary
                                              In addition, the Ministry of Basic
and secondary school curricula, as well as
                                              Education, Sport and Culture prepared
its pre- and in-service teacher training
                                              A Ten Year Plan for Educator Development
curricula and materials. NIED works with
                                              and Support, 2000 - 2010 that aims to
teachers, schools, Teacher Resource Centers
                                              establish Educational and Development
(TRCs), regional offices, MBESC, as well
                                              Support Units in all regions to meet the
as colleges and international groups


2                                              LearnLink
                   LearnLink                                                                   3
development and training needs of
teachers and administrators. Another Ten                  Zoom in on Namibia
Year goal is to expand access to resources for
                                                 Geography
teaching and learning as well as to improve      Location: Southern Africa, bordering the
educational administration. Underlying           Atlantic Ocean and South Africa
these objectives is the aim to reduce the        Area: total: 825,418 sq km
                                                 Land use: arable land: 1%; permanent crops:
disparities in teacher and administrative        0%; permanent pastures: 46%; forests and
preparedness throughout the country.             woodland: 22%
NIED, a major service provider, has              Environmental issues: drought and very
                                                 limited natural fresh water resources;
adopted IT to deliver these services.
                                                 desertification

                                                 People
   COMPUTER- ASSISTED                            Population: 1,648,270
 TEACHER TRAINING (CATT)                         Age: 44% <14 years; 52% 15-64; 4% >65
                                                 Population growth rate: 1.57%
                                                 Infant mortality rate: 65.94 deaths/1,000 live
Initially, USAID supported Namibia’s             births
emphasis on enhancing basic education            Life expectancy at birth: 41.26 years
                                                 Total fertility rate: 4.94 children born/woman
and teacher training through the Basic
                                                 Ethnic groups: black 86%, white 6.6%, mixed
Education Support (BES and BES II)               7.4% (about 50% belong to the Ovambo tribe)
activities, which focus on upgrading the         Religions: Christian 80-90% (50% Lutheran),
quality of primary schools. The new              native religions10-20%
                                                 Languages: English 7% (official) and Afrikaans
Computer-Assisted Teacher Training
                                                 Literacy: total: 38%; males: 45%; females: 31%
(CATT) project adds IT to strengthen
professional development and provide             Economy
continuous educational support to teachers       GDP per capita: $4,100
                                                 Inflation rate: 7%
and administrators.                              Unemployment rate: 30-40%
                                                 External debt: $315 million

   NOT TECHNOLOGY FOR                            Communications
                                                 Telephones: 89,722
    TECHNOLOGY’S SAKE                            Radio broadcast stations: AM 4, FM 40
                                                 Radios: 195,000
Namibia is a very young country that is          Television broadcast stations: 8 (of which five
looking toward the future as it integrates       are main stations; plus 20 low-power repeaters)
                                                 Televisions: 27,000
modern technology into its education
                                                 Personal computers per 1000: 19
system. This offers a chance to quickly          Internet hosts per 10,000: 11.73
close the wide gap in teacher preparedness,          The World Factbook, 2001, www.odci.gov/
                                                             cia/publication/factbook/index.htm
which, according to UNESCO, had                      www.itu.int/ti/industryoverview/at_glance/
regional ranges from 6.3% to 50.8% in                                             Internet99.pdf
1998. According to standards set in 1992,
                              AED/LEARNLINK IN AFRICA

    Namibia’s CATT project is one of three teacher training and professional development
    programs that LearnLink is implementing in Africa. The Namibia project’s focus on
    in-service training for educators and project-based learning distinguishes it from
    LearnLink’s work in Morocco—pre-service, teacher-centered training that eventu-
    ally leads to full use of IT multimedia tools—and LearnLink’s project in Uganda—
    focusing on online in-service and pre-service training to improve teachers’
    knowledge of subject content. The projects are similar in that they partner with
    national education professionals, digitize curriculum materials, train teachers to use
    IT, establish connectivity and multimedia centers for educators, and build a network of
    Master Information Teachers. Also, while the three activities differ in the nature and
    extent of Ministry involvement, who and how many are trained, the scope and
    content of training materials, and the method of training, all include development
    of web sites and educational resources for networking and knowledge transfer.



the percentage of qualified
teachers was 6.3% in
Rundu, where few gains
were made since 1992,
20.9% in Katima Mulilo,
where gains increased 10
times the figure in 1992,
and 50.8% in Windhoek,
which almost doubled
gains since 1992.

The LearnLink-CATT
activities are introducing
IT to facilitate educator
communication and
                                                               Sabina Béhague




provide distance learning
                                                                                               Jeffrey Goveia




and web-based research
opportunities for teachers
and administrators. Also,
the project is creating        Kao, a “Kids on the Block” volunteer, preparing to set up the
networking capacity and        digital camera at Rundu

4                                                    LearnLink
                 LearnLink                                                                             5

computer centers at NIED in
Okahandja and at Teacher
Resource Centers (TRCs) in
Rundu, Katima Mulilo, and
Ongwediva.

As the only regional locus of




                                                                                          Jeanette Sibungo
support for local primary
teachers, these TRCs support
educators in the northern
education regions, where the
                                At the regional computer center at NIED, students take
government historically has
                                advantage of an opportunity to use the computers
under-invested in education and
where teacher preparedness is very low.
                                                      UNIQUE ADAPTATIONS
As connectivity spreads throughout the
                                                 Each TRC’s small staff is expanding to
country, the multimedia centers will
                                                 include an Education Technology Trainee
become the mid-points of “spokes on a
                                                 (ETT), who maintains the computers,
wheel,” linked to NIED and the Ministry
                                                 provides computer and software help, and
at the “hub” and extending out to local
                                                 manages the computer centers. Presently,
schools with both an online and a face-to-
                                                 ETTs are mostly out-of-school youth or
face network. Connectivity was achieved
                                                 female high school graduates with low skill
at NIED and the TRCs with line leasing
                                                 levels, who are receiving intensive training
and installation from UUNET/SchoolNet
                                                 in computer technology, applications,
and its computer savvy youth known as
                                                 network maintenance, and management
“Kids on the Block.” The computer
                                                 skills. As a small step toward gender equity,
centers offer multiple, interactive
                                                 hiring female ETTs offsets the predominance
resources for teachers and administrators,
                                                 of males in IT positions in Namibia.
including Internet and e-mail access.
Future resources will include an online
                                                 Another unique feature of this project is its
library of resources and training materials
                                                 focus on HIV/AIDs. LearnLink has
plus support for computer and application
                                                 purchased TRC computer center “mouse”
use and curriculum development.
                                                 pads with an HIV/AIDS health advisory.
Community access during “off” hours
                                                 Further information dissemination about
may be offered on a fee-for-use basis.
                                                 HIV/AIDS—directly affecting about one in
                                                 five Namibian adults and reducing the
                                                 number of teachers and technical
professionals—may be
posted on the Namibia
educational web site
(www.edsnet.na/edsnet).

Known as the
Educational and
Development and
Support (ED’S)




                                                                                              Jeffrey Goveia
Network, the web site is
incorporating content
from other USAID and
NIED education projects.
                               SchoolNet volunteer and local radio personality John Buckham
Most importantly, the          configuring the server at Rundu
web content will focus
on dynamic teaching philosophies,                           EMBEDDED IN A SOCIAL
approaches, and pedagogy compatible with                                CONTEXT
the introduction of technology to enhance
learning. Online training modules,                      Embedding training within project-based
resource materials, and chat opportunities              learning (PBL) exposes Namibian
are gradually being added to the web site.              educators to other teaching methods that
The site and the project itself are based on an         combine teamwork, discovery, critical and
open, highly interactive architecture and               creative thinking, effective communication,
constructivist, learner-centered pedagogy.              and an active inquiry with responsible




                 Splash page from the Namibian web site www.edsnet.na/edsnet

6                                                     LearnLink
                 LearnLink                                                                      7

participation. PBL is the pedagogy and             Additional pilot training will be conducted
application of concepts and skills to              with 20 digitized modules of the NIED
concrete problems, constraints, cases, and         Teachers’ Basic Competency Manual
issues. It is learning imbedded in a social        (TBCM), produced on a CD-ROM with
context. Learners take ownership and               LearnLink-CATT assistance. Using the
have fun within a learning process that can        Manual will be instrumental to improving
work for administrators, teachers, or              the quality of in-service training for
primary school students.                           teachers who fall below the national
                                                   standard for educational preparedness.
Thus, CATT-Namibia’s training model
enables educators to adapt materials at the        Evaluation of the CD-ROM with
regional, district, or local level for use         comparisons to other delivery methods,
by anyone.                                         such as online instruction and face-to-face
                                                   learning, will be used to demonstrate the
LearnLink is training NIED and TRC                 capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses of
staff to become Master Information                 IT in the delivery of professional
Teachers who will champion IT and, as              development training.
such, will become key actors in improving
instructional and school support and
management. Using the PBL methods, the                    EXPANDING ACCESS
training is hands-on, combining computer
literacy, application familiarity, and the         As teachers and administrators gradually
integration of IT into instruction.                become acquainted with and apply IT
                                                                                   CATT staff




           Enthusiastic visitors at the NIED computer center opening
                                                                                 Tammy Hayano
         Thurmond Borden, Charge d’Affairs for the US Embassy in Namibia, examining
         a computer station at the NIED Grand Opening of its new facility


to learning and management functions,            multiple multimedia capabilities—e-mail,
it is hoped that they will be better able        listservs, chat messaging, web sites,
to communicate and access knowledge.             discussion fora, file sharing, and voice and
Moreover, this pilot may spur and                video—for building a strong
expand on a large scale the process of           education community.
adopting educational technology to
strengthen and enhance learning,                 Finally, it is hoped that providing
training, and communication by                   noneducators with access to IT at the
Namibian education professionals. By             centers—and providing a working
creating a virtual community in the              example of effective IT use by educators—
education sector, especially in the              will help to increase IT capacity in all
historically-disadvantaged northern              sectors of Namibian society.
regions, educators will be able to draw on




8                                                  LearnLink

				
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