Education Versus Development in Namibia

Namibia/February 17, 2021/By: FRITZ H DAUSAB/Source:

“Education is both a tool of social justice as well as a fundamental driver of economic development.”

– Kevin Rudd

SINCE independence, Namibia has budgeted billions and billions of dollars for the education sector. There is nothing wrong with this if we believe that those billions are an investment in our human capital. But, as they say, the proof of the eating is in the pudding! For the past 30 years, we have reaped what we have sown – an inability to reach targets set in NDP5 and, so far, Vision 2030. Why?

Getting rid of the Cape Education System, while outlawing corporal punishment, and ushering in the Cambridge Education System in 1994, can be seen as a watershed moment in Namibian education. Scrapping the Cape Education System was driven by emotion and was a knee-jerk response to getting rid of anything South African. In short, we threw out the baby with the bath water.

Clouded judgement brought us the Cambridge System, which was out of touch with Namibia’s economic prospects. It has little if anything to offer Namibia in terms of a path to development. The paths followed by Britain and the USA are different from those taken by the East Asian Tiger countries, which are also different to Africa.

Nine years out from our goal of achieving Vision 2030, Namibia is nowhere close to having the needed manufacturing capabilities.

If we look at the Cape Education System, the facts speak for themselves. The Western Cape in South Africa, which is home to this education system, is the province with the lowest unemployment figures. Secondly, the Western Cape also has a developed manufacturing sector. As a close neighbour, South Africa and Namibia share fundamental similarities, a shared history, a shared economy and, importantly, South Africa’s economic development is current (less than 70 years old) compared to Britain with its more than 250-year-old industrial revolution.

Also, despite saying we needed to get rid of all things to do with apartheid South Africa, we retained many business, mining, retail, insurance and health facility connections.


As is well known, Namibia ranks amongst the most unequal societies in the world, with many people living on less than US$2 a day. While efforts by the government to implement policies on job creation can be described as sluggish at best, it has ‘grown’ the government service (currently estimated at about 110 000 public servants).

As if that is not enough, it has established countless state owned enterprises, which have largely become harbours of nepotism and, in some cases, hotbeds of corruption.

They gobble up national resources rather than contributing to state coffers and, in too many cases, merely add fat to the politics of the belly. Our parastatals are not well managed, nor cost-effective. Both they and the civil service can be regarded as static ‘job providers’.

The billions lost to mass housing and to inflated tenders or non-completed tender projects are examples of inept governance. A government that cannot provide guidance on economic development is set to fail miserably and impoverish Namibia through the politics of the belly.

In conclusion, we have a sorry excuse of an education system that is a mismatch between an underdeveloped Namibia and a developed Britain. The plethora of SOEs should be shut down and they must stop competing with the real economy, and Swapo and the National Planning Commission should wave goodbye to American/European/Chinese consultants. We must get African solutions for African problems.

Namibia should be bold and get to work on creating its own education system to help chart our own economic development plans as a country.

* Fritz H Dausab, political economy analyst.

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Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.

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Education Versus Development in Namibia – Sarraute Educación María Magdalena

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