The day before the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture announced the Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary Level and Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Advanced Subsidiary results, a ministerial delegation led by Anna Nghipondoka and executive director Sanet Steenkamp met with president Hage Geingob.
Little did they know that this would be the last meeting they would have with a leader who, during his tenure, had overseen the commitment of the largest chunk of the national budget to the ministry.
Hours after the meeting concluded and images of it went viral on social media, many people were at odds trying to deduce from Geingob’s face whether the ministry had delivered good results or not.
Steenkamp, who received the shocking news of the death of the president while in the port town of Lüderitz, this week sat with The Namibian to relive the moments inside that meeting.
“We met his excellency on 9 January at his private residence and we actually met at 13h45 that afternoon. We decided that because of the announcement around his health, we would keep the engagement short and we would keep 45 minutes with him.”
“But they were 45 minutes packed with intensity but also very light moments. He came into the room, he admitted to us that he was waiting for his doctors to give him news that day and that he expected that not to be good news,” said Steenkamp.
Despite some quarters not welcoming the national results when they were finally announced on 10 January, Steenkamp said Geingob expressed his delight at the improvement made.
The year prior, Geingob would be caught up in the midst of a blame game on account of the drop in the 2022 pass rate, but he rose to the occasion when calling on all parties to unite.
“However, he still gave us his time and when we presented to him, he was very pleased that there had been progress. We discussed our Cabinet approved implementation plan for the next seven years around education. He provided us with his insight and in the end, he expressed his gratitude.”
“However, he also expressed concern that there was a lot of misconception about the curriculum. That there is a lot of misunderstanding around the education sector in the public domain. When he said that, I told him, your excellency, I pledge to you today that team education, all of us sitting here, the minister, as well as the full executive committee of the ministry, we will do everything in our power to restore the faith of people in education,” she said.
“But mostly also to correct and to continuously inform the public. He truly appreciated that we were all there. We had light moments. We laughed together. When we left the room, he actually stood and waited for every one of us, greeting us, making eye contact with every individual. We wished him well and he returned where the first lady and the team of people were waiting for him.”
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