Contact Person: Ms Canner Kalimba
Position: Director of Adult Basic Education
Fax: 09264 61 293 3913
Tel: 09264 61 293 3187
Postal Address Private Bag 12033
The National Literacy Programme in Namibia (NLPN) is part of the
Governments commitment to national development and education for all. According to
the Constitution and the national education policy, Government is responsible for
providing basic education to all residents, including adults. In September 1992, after
careful preparation by the Department of Adult Education and Culture, the NLPN was
launched. It would build upon a long tradition of literacy and adult education, dating
back to the early activities of the missionaries, and continuing programmes of the
churches, NGOs, and SWAPO during the liberation struggle.
The programme has gradually expanded since 1992, from about 15,000
learners taught by 700 promoters (literacy teachers) in the first year to about 36,000
learners and about 2000 promoters in all three stages in 1994/95. The programme continues
to expand, and in 1999 there are some 46,000 learners.
Studies revealed that 35% of the Namibian population above the age of
15 (and 38% of the Namibian population above the age of 16) were illiterate in 1991. This
means that at least 300,000 people lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. This poses
serious constraints on their active participation in the social and economic development
The Directorate of Adult Basic Education (DABE) is dedicated to
provision of literacy and numeracy skills to disadvantaged adults and out-of-school youth
to enable them to contribute more effectively to national development.
Currently the Directorate tries to satisfy its Mission through three
related programmes, namely the National Literacy Programme in Namibia (NPLN), the Adult
Upper Primary Programme, the Adult Skills Development for Self Employment, and Community
Learning and Development Centres. While the NLPN is a well-developed activity, the others
are in their formative stages.
Aims and Objectives
The goal is for Namibia to become a fully literate nation. The
short-term quantitative goal is to attain 80% literacy in Namibia by the year 2000. The
ultimate qualitative goal of the literacy programme and all Adult Basic Education is to
improve the quality of life for all Namibians who in the past were discriminated against
and marginalized. The overall programme objectives are therefore to promote social,
cultural, political, and economic development. To this end, the NLPN:
- promotes basic literacy skills in mother tongue languages and in English, as well as
basic numeracy skills;
- promotes further learning and education among adults with the view to reducing existing
- empowers learners by reinforcing self-confidence, self-reliance and the ability to
continue learning throughout their lives;
- enhances peoples communication capacity and the creation of a well-informed
- empowers people to participate in the democratic process and exercise their rights and
responsibilities as human beings;
- enables parents, both mothers and fathers, to participate in the improvement of their
childrens health and education;
- enables and encourages youth and adults to participate in community development and
training activities to equip them with production and business planning and management
- enhances understanding and tolerance of different religions, beliefs, cultures and ways
- fosters a positive attitude towards equality between women and men;
- promotes national unity and international understanding between women and men;
- enhances environmental awareness.
How the Basic Education Directorate operates
The Adult Basic Education Programme fulfils its functions through its
five professional subdivisions and a general services subdivision. The latter handles
general administrative and support functions, without which the professional divisions
would not operate. The subdivisions are:
- Material Development is responsible for development of all learning
and teaching materials in mother tongues and in English. The division is also responsible
for the production of the Directorate s newsletter.
- Training of Trainers is responsible for organizing training programmes for
the Directorate staff members both in pre-service and in-service situations. As it is the
Directorates policy to support the training needs of cooperating partners, such
bodies can approach this division when in need.
- Research, Planning and Programme Development, through research and other
means, identifies new programmes, and suggests new directions to the Directorate. This
enables the Directorate to respond quickly to the needs of adult learners.
- Monitoring and Evaluation is responsible for monitoring the programme through
collecting and analysing statistics gathered through monitoring instruments designed by
the Directorate. It also organizes programme evaluation as well as yearly evaluation and
assessment of learning achievements.
- Adult Skills Development for Self-Employment is responsible for all the
activities of the new pilot project on employment creation. It cooperates very closely
with all other divisions of the Directorate.
Adult Basic Education Programme
The programme is divided into three stages, each stage lasting about
one year. Numeracy skills are taught throughout the three stages. A learner may repeat a
stage only once.
This is open to those at the very beginning, and materials are designed
to introduce learners to the basic syllables of their own mother tongue. Learning how to
write properly is an important activity of this stage.
This stage, which is also conducted in mother tongues, deals with
intermediate learners, the majority of whom will have successfully completed Stage One. A
few others will be those who dropped out of school at very early stages or those who have
acquired some reading and writing skills on their own. The instructional materials at this
stage are functional. This means that, while seeking to improve, reinforce, and sustain
the skills acquired in Stage One, the materials will simultaneously offer useful knowledge
and skills in various subjects such as in agriculture, health, small scale business,
civics, etc. The NLPN hopes that discussion of the issues raised in the materials, and
action which the learners may decide to take arising from the discussions, would go a long
way in improving the quality of lives of the participants and of their communities.
Learners are introduced to basic English. The emphasis is on
communicative English and reinforcing developmental activities.
Adult Upper Primary Programme
The completion of the three stages in the NLPN is considered equivalent
to Grade 4 in the primary school system. The Directorate is planning a curriculum for the
immediate follow-up of Stage Three. This phase is known as the Adult Upper Primary
Programme, and it is designed to satisfy the needs of the adult learners while at the same
time offering them educational competencies equivalent to those of upper primary school.
Other less formal learning activities will be available to those adults not interested in
this type of certificate.
Adult Skills Development for Self-Employment
This new project is being piloted in Karas and Oshana regions with the
purpose of providing the Directorate with the capacity to validate an approach to adult
non-formal training activities at national, regional, and district levels. The main goal
of the project is to provide a better service to the community by integrating adult
education with employment creation. It is hoped that, when the project is fully
operational, it will contribute to the national effort of poverty alleviation through
affording communities with self-employment skills. The main beneficiaries of this project
are individuals or groups of adults over the age of 18 years who were previously deprived
and are now eager to venture into new occupational areas.
Programme Ownership, Cooperation, and Support
The Namibian Government is the main facilitator and sponsor of the
literacy programme. However, ownership of the programme rests with the community. The
community is expected to participate in all the programmes including their initiation,
planning, direction, monitoring, and evaluation. Despite the constraints, which
communities may have, such as poverty and inadequate means of communication, people and
communities are encouraged and supported to participate in the structures, which have been
created specifically to empower them to take full control of the programme and direct it
to their benefit. The following structures have been set up to invite wide participation
in the programme:
- National Literacy Committee: directs the programme at the national level and advises
the Minister on policy and new directions for the programme. Though coming from the main
stakeholders, the members are appointed by the Minister and serve the Committee in their
- Regional Literacy Committee: directs the programme at regional level.
- District Literacy Committee: directs the programme at the local level. This
important committee is responsible for mobilizing communities, for recruitment of learners
and for identifying the local resources needed for the smooth operation of the programme.
- Literacy Class Committee: is made up of the learners themselves and is responsible
for ensuring that classes are conducted in a manner conducive to learning. One major
responsibility of a class committee is to bring back fellow learners who have drifted away
from the class.
Partnership and Cooperation with NGOs
NGOs and the private sector can participate in the programme by:
- Setting up learning groups that are managed and supervised entirely by the sponsors
- Making available premises for government-led groups; and
- Sponsoring the programme through the National Literacy Trust from which NGOs involved in
running literacy programmes can get financial help to supplement their own funds.
The directorate will assist all organizations registered with the
programme by supplying learning materials without charge, assisting with the training of
staff, without charge, assisting the partner to set up and monitoring literacy classes.
Relevant Education Policy
The NLPN is an integral part of the national education system. The four
major national educational goals access, equity, quality and democracy are
guiding principles that must be realized through NLPN. (Refer to Policy Guidelines for
the Second Phase, 1996 2000 of the National Literacy Programme in Namibia, Ministry
of Basic Education and Culture, Directorate of Adult Basic Education, Windhoek, Namibia,
1997, pp. 6-7).
Challenges and Opportunities
The Ministry of Basic Education is dependent for the success of the
programme on support from all sectors of society, including political leaders, community
leaders, employers in the private and public sectors, government ministries at central and
regional levels, trade unions, churches, youth; womens organizations, donors, and
Some future plans include:
- Increasing enrolment of literacy learners, especially at Stage One. While still
encouraging more women to join, men will be targeted especially because too few are
- Gradually and progressively developing post-literacy programmes to a stage equivalent to
Grade 7 in formal school.
- Establishing mechanisms for increasing awareness and support of adult skills activities.
- Establishing Community Learning Development Centres to sustain acquired literacy skills.