By: Anton Mbinge
For the past three weeks, the Namibia College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) has banned Pre-Entry Tertiary Education (Pete) learners from accessing classes because they did not buy portable Wi-Fi devices.
The Namcol regional office in Otjiwarongo informed parents that acquiring the devices is mandatory in order for learners to access the online courses and other educational materials. A letter dated 03 August 2022, issued to parents stated that the portable Wi-Fi devices are a must for all Pete learners in order for them to access online classes and other educational materials. According to the Students Union of Namibia (SUN) president Bernhard Kavau, the decision by Namcol management was taken without considering the fact that some learners might not be able to afford the devices, while stressing that the period given to parents was sudden and most of the parents will find it difficult to acquire the devices for their children. Kavau further added that the directive contradicts the Namibian Constitution when it comes to access to education. "It is very worrisome from our side as a union. We have seen that this is a contravention of the Namibian Constitution in terms of access to education. I'm even surprised that they are saying that if you do not have a pocket Wi-Fi you will not sit for the examination," stated Kavau. Petrus Shiweva, a parent of two learners that are enrolled at the Otjiwarongo Regional Centre, stated that this is an unfortunate situation as the directive was not communicated to the parents. "I even pleaded with the centre coordinator Mr. Lubasi for an extension of the due date, however, he said that there was nothing he could do although he understood my concern as a parent. He was simply executing his duty as instructed”, he said. Learners who are unable to purchase the mandatory internet devices will miss the standardised test series that are set to start on the 15 to 19 August 2022, in preparation for the national examinations.
The Khomas center regional manager, told TodayOnOne, that the learners are allowed to return to classes but the purchasing of the devices remains a must while adding that there was no official letter issued.