Teacher absenteeism blamed for Kunene’s poor performance

Petrus Shipalanga

Kunene acting regional director Petrus Shipalanga blames the region’s low academic performance on high teacher absenteeism and underqualified teachers.

This comes after the minister of education, arts and culture, Anna Nghipondoka, last week during the release of the 2023 national Grade 11 and Grade 12 examination results, revealed the Kunene region as the least performing region with only 159 pupils qualifying for AS Level.

“Teachers absenteeism is noted to be one of the contributing factors to poor performance in the Kunene region. The region also has challenges with qualified teachers. It has teachers that are misplaced or underqualified to teach at the senior secondary phase.

“There are teachers who teach in the secondary phase, but they are qualified for junior primary or senior primary phase or only qualified to teach up to Grade 9.”

Shipalanga said another contributing factor is teachers’ resource centres and libraries with outdated materials which are of no use to teachers and pupils, with centres at Opuwo and Khorixas having no computers to enhance teaching and learning.

Other regions have more primary schools offering family literacy, but the Kunene region only has five schools offering family literacy.

According to Shipalanga this resulted in some teachers not completing the syllabus.

“Learners’ ill discipline in some schools were reported. The region did not have the regional school counsellor to offer psychosocial support to learners encountering behaviour difficulties and other learning difficulties. The absence of a regional school counsellor negatively affects the effectiveness of curriculum implementation.”

Shipalanga added that the regional management plans conducting performance dialogue at schools, with the review of results to be done by two teams. Each team will meet with school board members, the principal, school management, teachers, pupils and parents, he said.

Shipalanga added that instructions will be sent to schools to analyse their results and craft school-based academic improvement plans to be forwarded to the regional director for approval.

“We also plan capacitating the NSSCO and NSSCAS teachers as we will train them on the examiner reports for 2023. Subject quizzes will also be increased.” He said although the region has been performing poorly and positioned 14th for two consecutive years, it has also improved.

“I do not know why people do not want to see the improvements made at NSSCAS and also the improvement of 4,6% in terms of percentages of candidates/learners qualified for NSSCAS by comparing the regional performance with 2022.

“In the 2022 academic year, the percentage of learners who qualified for the AS level was 11,3%, and in 2023, the region scored 15,95%. There is an increase of 4,6% from the academic year 2022 to 2023.”

Shipalanga said senior education officers are busy analysing the results to determine the number of candidates that scored an aggregate of 20 points in a minimum of five subjects as per the Ministerial Extended Strategic Plan for the 2023/2024 to 2024/2025 financial year.

Education executive director Sanet Steenkamp said teachers being absent must be controlled at a regional level.

“The principals are the ones who will have to report teacher absenteeism in a truthful manner.”

“Kunene has vast distances, but there is no regular travelling to schools from the regional office. So, we rely on the integrity of teachers, to be on time and motivated to attend school because they are not only employed, but they take care of many learners.”

She said the Kunene region is characterised by many cultural and environmental factors.

“Mobile schools in Namibia were first seen in this region where schools needed to follow the nomadic lifestyles of residents. However, the government is committed to ensuring that no one is left behind, including having teachers following the nomadic lifestyles to ensure teaching and learning take place.

“Indeed, it may take longer to realise the good results that other regions are obtaining. With the implementation of the regional improvement plans crafted together with stakeholders, there’s definitely a silver lining in the cloud that Kunene stands to become one of the best performing regions in the near future.”

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