The Future of English in the Omusati Region

Bonifatius Uugwanga

In Namibia, English serves as a vital link connecting Namibia to the global network.

Moreover, it has played a significant role in harmonising and facilitating development aspects of our nation.

However, while English is considered a universal language, many Namibian school-goers face challenges, particularly at the basic level.

This has been exacerbated by the new curriculum.

Challenges have been particularly prevalent in rural schools, especially in the Omusati region.

The English performance of pupils in Omusati was already poor before the new curriculum was introduced.

While the current curriculum is lacking, and the government has failed pupils by not providing adequate resources for their education, there are steps that can be taken to help pupils.


The region is predominantly monolingual, with most of the population speaking only one language in various dialects.

It is also important to mention that language proficiency is developed through consistent practice and exposure to the language in various contexts.

Limited exposure to English outside the classroom can hinder a pupil’s’ proficiency because of insufficient interaction with the language.

I believe this lack of immersion and interaction can significantly affect their language acquisition and proficiency.

In a monolingual environment where English is not widely spoken, pupils struggle to attain a sufficient level of language proficiency.

As a result, there are pupils who find it difficult to express themselves or to read something and understand its meaning.

It is not uncommon to find pupils who complain that they are being taught concepts beyond their level of comprehension.

However, monolingualism is not the only factor.

Teachers also play a role in this as some of them resort to using their vernacular during English instruction and this could have a detrimental effect on a pupil’s ability to cope with examinations and classroom work.


Socio-economic factors can also play a crucial role.

Some guardians or parents in the Omusati region may not be able to buy the required English learning material such as textbooks, dictionaries, let alone school uniforms.

Those from economically challenged backgrounds often have limited, or no access to educational material such as books in general, computers, or internet connectivity.

This lack of resources hinders the ability of many pupils to practise and improve their English language skills outside the classroom.

In other cases, pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds may face challenges such as inadequate parental involvement, because of economic pressures or a lack of higher education themselves.

This can result in limited support for language learning at home, which could otherwise reinforce their skills outside school hours.
There is also a lack of proper libraries in their areas or at schools to help facilitate learning for pupils.

As the well known author Dr Seuss famously said, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.”

This highlights the significance of access to reading material for pupils.

Another factor which should not be overlooked is that pupils who don’t live in hostels often go to school without having had breakfast.

In my opinion, this can also contribute to poor performance.


Although there are those who may consider the current English curriculum a failure, I believe there is room for improvement given the current situation.

Francis Bacon, most known for his philosophy of science, noted that: “Knowledge is power.”

This cannot be overemphasised as a lack of books at schools contributes to pupils’ lack of both general and particular knowledge.
In this respect, renovating school libraries is an imperative.

In addition, parents should be encouraged to support their children and create conducive learning environments at home to enable their children to study English.

Those who can should buy their children newspapers to read or other English-related material.

I believe that renovating school libraries and setting up computer labs for research will go a long way to enhancing pupils’ English proficiency – whether they’re studying English as a First Language (EFL) or as a Second Language (ESL) both at Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary Level or National Senior Secondary Certificate Advanced Subsidiary.

  • * Bonifatius Uugwanga is a second year student at the University of Namibia, studying English. The views expressed in this article are entirely his own.

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