Youth and Adult Learning and Education in Namibia

In 2011 the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) conducted a research study in five of the countries in the region – Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland –  to draw an up-to-date map of the current state of youth and adult education in these countries – the policies, institutional frameworks, governance, funding, provision and stakeholders.

Richard Lee's picture


Strategic communications for WWF

September 10th, 2012

In 2011 the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) conducted a research study in five of the countries in the region – Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland –  to draw an up-to-date map of the current state of youth and adult education in these countries – the policies, institutional frameworks, governance, funding, provision and stakeholders.

This report on Namibia is part of that regional study and is based upon research conducted by Kavena Shalyefu of the Faculty of Education of the University of Namibia and K.N. Nghipandulwa with the support of the Namibia Literacy Trust. The purpose of the study was to gain a deeper understanding of the current delivery of education and training to out-of-school youth and adults and to identify the effective institutions, educational practices, stakeholder collaboration and networking that will improve its quantity and quality.

It is hoped that this report can challenge Namibia to further strengthen its youth and adult education policies and make suitable institutional and financial provision to meet the educational needs of its young and old citizens.

The full report can be downloaded below

The report concludes that Namibia has demonstrated through law, policies and practices that there are good intentions in terms of investing in all groups of people. The laws and policies are inclusive.

However, policy makers, actors and providers of youth and adult education services continue to underplay their mandate and fail to recognise and integrate the contributions that youth and adult education offer to the broader economic, social, and human development. The field of adult education remains fragmented, advocacy efforts are dissipated across a variety of fronts and political credibility is diluted. There is a need to consolidate fragmented bits of law and policy that relate to adult education, and form or reform educational structures in order to achieve desired outcomes in this field. This will require time, determination and commitment.

To take stock of the progress made in youth and adult education is a matter of urgency. This may seem an easy task but it is complicated – youth and adult education services happen in so many ways and in so many places that they cannot be easily described in a simple way. Youth and adult education takes so many different forms – formal afternoon classes in basic education; evening continuing education classes; literacy, numeracy, secondary school qualifications through distance or part-time; radio, television or computer teaching sessions; cultural events; church and institutional interventions in life skills and health education; informal, incidental, non-formal education; skills training and on the job training, and so on.

The field is so wide and many of the definitions commonly used so limiting (so much so that some providers do not even realise that they are offering adult education!). The financial underpinning of youth and adult education is difficult to find and map – sustainability is a severe problem. There are clearly many mismatches of policy, coordination and implementation, institutions and programmes, actors and providers. Practitioner development requires thorough investigation. There is increasing recognition of the growing mass of unemployed and out-of-training and out-of-education youth – and too little vocational education and training provision to serve them.

There are many youth and adult education actors and providers in Namibia. It has been observed that they do their activities with passion and aspiration. But they need to work together for success in youth and adult education as the providers are targeting the same small population but often without a common vision or strategy. They have diverse views of where they want to see youth and adult education going and what it should achieve as a sector. They are not working together in any sort of way even though they seem to know of each other’s existence. The lack of any noticeable coordination effort between providers is evident from the lack of flow of learners between institutions, the lack of transition of participants into more formalised institutions of learning, and the lack of articulation between providers, for example, private institutions and the vocational training centres. But if these issues can be overcome and if these passions and aspirations can be gathered in one big effort, the impact on – what is, after all – a small population could be fast and hugely rewarding.


Policy, legislation and governance

  • Namibia needs to consolidate existing youth and adult education related policies and legislation into a comprehensive enabling act for youth and adult education.
  • There should be a review and revision of policies so that they can be adjusted to the current needs of the population.
  • Implementation of policy options relating to marginalised children should be done in a participatory way, which will empower them at various levels and actively encourage their participation in decision-making processes.
  • Appropriate mechanisms for the coordination of youth and adult education activities should be established that involve all stakeholders – and as an interim measures, a steering committee should be put in place to help coordinate the efforts of youth and adult education stakeholders and arrange an annual planning conference for stakeholders.
  • There should be more effective implementation of education policies that are already in place to support youth and adult education.

Awareness and recognition of youth and adult education

  • Agencies at all levels, including government ministries, that are involved in youth and adult education need to overtly identify themselves as being such providers and so assist in deepening the understanding of both key players and the public of the importance and priority of youth and adult education and reduce ignorance and even prejudice about it.


  • Old versions of implementation guidelines, for example, those of the National Literacy Programme of Namibia, need to be revised, and the implementers need to adapt their practices accordingly.


  • Plans to overhaul the conceptualisation, curriculum and materials of the National Literacy Programme of Namibia must be supported as it is increasingly being recognised that initial literacy is not enough on its own.


  • Although the Namibia government has invested heavily in education it still needs to urgently increase the investment in youth and adult education.\
  • New educational resources should be sought by partnering with the private sector, NGOs, communities, individuals and donors.
  • All stakeholders should advocate for an increase in political commitment to youth and adult education so that the required resources can be obtained to increase the scale of programmes.

Qualifications frameworks

  • Effective instruments and systems of recognition, validation and accreditation of all forms of learning, monitoring and evaluation should be established – as recommended in the Belém Framework for Action (UNESCO, 2009b).
  • The registration process for the National Qualifications Framework needs to be simplified and special provision (including less onerous criteria) should be made for small organisations.

Capacity building

  • Advertising adult education practitioner vacancies with formal (schooling system) education requirements should be ended and relevant human resource offices should be approached on this matter to advertise positions in such a way as to promote qualified youth and adult education professionals with the requisite experience.


  • 1 Hood Avenue/148 Jan Smuts; Rosebank, GP 2196; South Africa
  • T. +27 (0)11 587 5000
  • F. +27 (0)11 587 5099