Democratic Teacher Education Reform in Africa: The Case of Namibia

Democratic Teacher Education Reform in Africa: The Case of Namibia

Democratic Teacher Education Reform in Africa: The Case of Namibia

Democratic Teacher Education Reform in Africa: The Case of Namibia

Synopsis

Namibia, a country of one and one-half million people in southern Africa, achieved independence from South Africa in 1990. At independence, the new SWAPO government sought to transform the country's educational system from one that educated elites to one that provided a high quality basic education of at least ten years for all Namibians. A central aspect of these educational reform efforts has been the reform of teacher education for basic education and the professional development of teacher educators. This book examines post-independence teacher education reforms in Namibia from the perspectives of different actors in the reform process: Ministry of Education personnel, teacher educators, teachers, school administrators, student teachers, and external consultants. Consistent with the current focus on building internal capacity within Namibia to sustain the reforms and on creating Namibian knowledge about education, sixteen of the book's nineteen chapters are authored by Namibians. The educational reforms in Namibia are based on four central goals of promoting greater access, equity, democracy, and quality. They seek to replace the former autocratic knowledge transmission system with one that is more leaner-centered, community-responsive, and focused on knowledge construction. Unlike many other educational reforms in African countries that have limited teachers and teacher educators to marginal roles as implementors of ideas and practices formulated away from the classroom, the Namibian reforms call for broad participation in defining and developing the reforms in ways that are consistent with the four general goals.

Excerpt

Dutte Shinyemba

My Life and Education in Preindependence Namibiay

I WAS BORN IN A RURAL AREA, in a village called Onanghulo-Endola, approximately 30 kilometers northeast of Oshakati. I am the sixth daughter in our family. My parents are peasants. They had no opportunities to go to school when they were young. My mother attended school for two weeks, and then she was told by her uncle that she was not allowed to attend school. She stayed at home doing house chores and preparing food for the members of our extended family.

In the 1960s Endola was a safe place, but living standards were low. Because the people were not exposed to many foreign influences, they led a very simple life. They were content with the little they had.

Although some adult males went to the south to search for employment on farms or in mines, most of them stayed at home working on the fields and looking after their herds of cattle. Herds of cattle meant quite a lot to men at that time. They were more important than school and education. Therefore, many of the boys at that time in villages surrounding Endola were not sent to school until they were past the age for the first grade because they were kept at home or at the cattle post to look after the "precious" animals.

Despite all the hardships, parents made sure that members of their families did not go without food. We never knew anything like a drought-relief scheme. Therefore, we got our daily living from the fields, where mum cultivated sorghum, millet, watermelon, beans, pumpkins, and so on, as many Namibian women do. Food had always been there thanks to the hard work of mum and all of us at home.

My father died when I was very young. Mother couldn't take care of all of us, so I went to stay with relatives at a farm called Waterbank . . .

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