The burning question on many people’s lips remains to what extent is free education free? with the Namibian Students’ Union saying that the Namibian education system is fast becoming a privilege and not a right.
SUN Secretary for Policy Analysis and Vulnerable Brian Ngutjinazo noted that Namibian children are demanding free education at all possible levels.
“Education is the most cherished public good available to poor Namibians. When will education be free as advocated by the late Dr. Abraham Iyambo and many other Namibians who are concerned about the future of Namibia? he reacted.
Education is considered a human right in most countries of the world, which enables human beings to be proficient in basic and advanced numeracy and literacy.
The government has decided to provide free education to pre-school and primary learners because it is a requirement of the constitution.
Under Article 20 of the Namibian Constitution, “Primary education shall be compulsory and the State shall provide reasonable facilities to give effect to this right for every resident in Namibia, by establishing and maintaining public schools in which the primary education shall be provided free of charge.
Like other countries, Namibia is committed to making primary and secondary education a basic human right for all its residents.
Being a human right also implies that primary education should be provided free of charge in public schools in Namibia, which later brought forth the concept of free education.
Yet with free education, there were media reports at the start of the 2022 school year that some schools were turning away children due to unpaid fees from the previous year.
Similarly, parents have expressed concern over the annual stationery lists, including cleaning supplies they have received from different schools to purchase for their children.
According to Ngutjinazo, students and learners were facing problems with tuition fees, which are high, and learners in most public schools forced parents to buy books and other stationery.
Likewise, he said the number of students from marginalized backgrounds whose tuition goes unpaid in universities and many other institutions of higher learning has become a concern.
“The criteria that are in place to further discriminate against students from marginalized backgrounds are unwarranted and need to be looked at. Disability Affairs Offices are doing a phenomenal job, and they should continue the superb job they are doing in empowering people with disabilities,” Ngutjinazo stressed.