UNESCO Education For All (EFA) Country Profile

Covering a vast area of 825,418 square kilometers with barely 2.3 million inhabitants in 2012, Namibia is one of the least densely populated countries of the continent. Namibia is an upper-middle income country characterized by important socio-economic disparities. The prevalence of HIV&AIDS among the adult population aged 15 to 49 years is very high (13.4 percent). The country ranked 128th out of 187 countries according to the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2012.

On the basis of the evolution of the African Education for All Development Index between 2000 and 2012, some progress has been achieved. This is mainly due to the primary completion rate, which increased from 76.7 percent to 90.1 percent. The adult literacy rate also improved slightly over the period, from 85.0 percent to 88.7 percent. However the primary-level gender parity index changed from 98 percent (in favor of girls) in 2000 to 96.5 percent (in favor of boys) in 2012. 

It is noted that the preprimary education dropped from 36 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2006. The coverage of the preprimary level seems to have deteriorated throughout the country. Currently most ECD centers in Namibia are offering services as a way of generating income. Whilst some are run by owners/staff that have received basic training and offer reasonable standards of care, most fall short of meeting minimum standards relating to safety, physical space, equipment, active learning, nutrition, hygiene as well as educational aspects. Lack of parental involvement and engagement with the early childhood education of their children is identified as a key gap by ECD service providers. With most ECD provision currently on a fee-paying basis for working parents, the most vulnerable children are excluded. 

Education coverage has however improved at the lower and upper levels of general secondary, with gross enrollment rates rising between 2000 and 2012 from 81 percent to 102 percent and from 30.1 percent to 38.1 percent, respectively. Access to school is universal since 2000. Although retention throughout the primary cycle is still incomplete, it has improved over the period (from 72 percent to 85 percent), constituting the main reason for the higher completion rate. Secondary-level retention is very good at the upper level (94.8 percent in 2012), and largely higher than retention at the lower level (67.4 percent) where selection is rigorous and the level of repetition is important (22.7 percent). Finally, with respect to the quality of education, it is noteworthy that the average level of learning outcomes of Namibian pupils strains to meet the average of eastern African countries.

The results recorded in terms of the achievement of EFA goals are more than mitigated. The expected improvement has not taken place, despite a favorable economic context over the period. The share of public recurrent expenditure allocated to education is similar to that noted on average in Sub-Saharan Africa (22 percent). The review of the distribution of the recurrent education budget by cycle highlights the fact that primary education only received 41 percent in 2012, below the Sub-Saharan African average (44 percent). Similarly, secondary education receives only 22 percent of the budget, against 30 percent for Sub-Saharan Africa overall. 

Source: UNESCO EFA country profile