Education Policy in Non-industrialized Countries:
A Comparison of Namibia and South Africa
Education represents a significant policy area for countries around the world. Not only is education considered a basic human right, but education is also linked to sustainable development, economic growth, and a healthy democracy. Countries around the world are engaging in public policy reforms to improve educational opportunities for their citizens. In non-industrialized countries, education is often a top priority for policy makers who view education as a means to both economic and democratic development. In this paper we examine the education policy process in non-industrialized countries through a comparative case analysis of Namibia and South Africa.
Common educational policy problems in a broad, non-industrialized context center on issues of access. Although both industrialized and non-industrialized seek to improve educational access, the policy problems of this domain are manifested quite differently in a non-industrialized context. Educational access discourse includes not only increasing students’ physical presence in schools, but also involves issues of equity, quality, and democracy. Common policy problems related to each of the domains include reaching marginalized students, training teachers in effective teaching methods, reforming curricula to improve accessibility of materials to all students, and adequate provision of educational facilities and learning materials. Major policy options have been introduced to address these broad issues hindering access, but the specific reforms introduced often depend on the cultural, institutional, political, and economic dynamics of individual countries.
Comparative analysis of Namibia and South Africa provides interesting insights into the policy-making process in a non-industrialized context. The common history of Apartheid and Bantu education has created many education similarities across both of these Sub-Saharan countries. Examining the similarities and differences of responses to common education policy problems allows us to determine factors that influence education policy-making in this region. Both Namibia and South Africa struggle with issues of language of instruction, inclusion, and facilities. Cross-national trends indicate that although policy outputs are significant, outcomes remain disappointing largely due to weaknesses in implementation. Differences in policy dynamics such as varying influence of policy actors, degree of centralization of decision -making, and influence of cultural considerations help explain policy differences across our cases.
Common Policy Problems
Declarations at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien in 1990 and the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000 formally recognized education as a fundamental human right and committed participating countries to six overarching educational goals. The second of these goals states that member countries will commit to “ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to, and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality” (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], 2000, p. 15). Research on education policy problems in non-industrialized countries reveals that the most common educational policy issue involves access to schooling.
While issues of access to schooling are common across all nations, the specific policy problems of access are manifested in highly divergent forms between industrialized and non-industrialized countries. In this paper access is discussed generally as well as via the ideas of equity, quality, and democracy in the context of non-industrialized countries.
First, access can be viewed as getting children physically to school. Educational access discourse in industrialized countries centers on access to early childhood development programs and higher education, school of choice, and inequitable distribution of quality education institutions (Adolino & Blake, 2011; Chimombo, 2005). In non-industrialized countries, access often refers to simply having students physically present in the classroom. Primary school enrollment rates by country are highly correlated to the income level of a country. Low-income countries have a primary enrollment rate of just 81% compared to a 97% enrollment rate in high-income countries (UNESCO, 2012). Sub-Saharan Africa has presented a particularly startling case of lack of educational access over the past few decades. The number of out-of-school children in Sub-Saharan Africa decreased steadily from 1999 to 2008, but then increased by 1.6 million between 2008 and 2010 (UNESCO, 2012). In many cases the opportunity cost of sending a child to school is too high for families to risk. Children are needed at home and contribute more to their families by not going to school. This dynamic can pose particularly difficult policy problems for non-industrialized countries.
Second, access in non-industrialized can be viewed through the lens of equity. The idea of equity is closely related to access, but differs when considering the kind of education offered to different groups of people. In many formerly colonized or newly independent countries, expanding access to education does not always guarantee equal access. Specific populations, including women, students with disabilities, and marginalized tribes or communities have struggled to maintain a presence in schools (Ministry of Education, Sports, and Culture [MoE], 2002; Chimombo, 2005). In addition to this problem, many teaching materials in non-industrialized countries, including textbooks, fail to equally represent the student population. This lack of representation in teaching materials generates and promotes an unequal opinion of specific student groups. Finally, equity in education includes provision of such things as water, electricity, and meals in schools (Gonzales, 2000). Throughout non-industrialized countries, these resources are not distributed equally. Some schools may offer modern facilities and technology to their students while others may not be capable of offering individual textbooks. Inequitable access to educational resources presents a significant policy problem for non-industrialized countries.
Third, Education for All speaks of not only access to education, but of access to quality education. The quality of education in non-industrialized countries depends on a number of factors. Some of these include teacher preparedness and training, classroom strategies, and adequate facilities and materials (MoE, 2002; Chimombo, 2005; Gonzales, 2000). In many situations, teacher education programs are of poor quality and opportunities for teacher professional development are lacking. Because of this, many classroom strategies in non-industrialized countries consist of a teacher-centered approach, rather than the proven effective learner-centered approach (Chimombo, 2002; Jansen, 1995). Ensuring access to quality education is a complex and challenging policy problem common to non-industrialized countries.
Finally, access to education contributes to the promotion of democracy building. Non-industrialized countries’ history and struggle for independence creates a need for practicing and teaching democratic ideals (Chimombo, 2002; MoE, 2002). It is the duty of the school to create a citizenry that upholds these ideals, thereby re-enforcing a national identity. The correlation between education and a healthy democracy has been widely studied (Dewey, 1903; Glaeser, Ponzetto, & Shleifer, 2006; Stasavage, 2005) and an educated populace is one of the central tenets of the democratic system. Access to quality education is especially important in recently independent and developing countries for its ability to cultivate a healthy democracy. As such countries seeking to improve the health of their democratic system often focus on improving the education system; education reform is therefore elevated to a prominent position on the institutional agenda.
While both industrialized and non-industrialized countries seek to improve access to quality education for their citizens, the specific policy problems manifested differ greatly. Common policy problems in non-industrialized countries generally center on policy issues of the interrelated domains of access, equity, quality, and democracy. The major policy options of these countries attempt to address these common policy problems and often include curriculum reform, additional teacher training, and improved learning environments.
Major Policy Options
Various policy options have been considered to improve individuals’ access to basic education in developing countries. One common policy option in developing countries, especially post-colonial countries, is the revision of national curricula to reflect the specific culture of learners. In practice, this means including relatable and relevant activities and pictures that represent all groups within a student population (Chimombo, 2002). Curriculum reform may also include implementation of learner-centered approaches to teaching. Reinforcing the quality of curriculum helps improve educational quality, which in turns helps to reduce the opportunity costs of attending school (Chimombo, 2002).
A second policy option is increasing teacher training and preparedness. Many teachers in non-industrialized countries express a feeling of unpreparedness in working with diverse learners. A large issue within the teaching communities in non-industrialized countries is the issue of language. When local languages differ from national languages, teachers often feel unprepared and unqualified to teach subjects not in their mother tongue. To address language issues, states attempt to reform teacher-training programs and provide professional development opportunities in order to prepare teachers for teaching their diverse population of students (Ball, 1998; Priestley, 2002). If teachers are unable to travel to further their studies, implementation of radio or television programs to provide training at home remains an attractive option. These policy options allow teachers in non-industrialized countries to be better prepared to meet with needs of a diverse population of learners.
A third policy option is providing appropriate learning environments for students. Many non-industrialized countries lack resources such as adequate learner facilities for students or teacher housing necessary for quality and equitable education. It may also include creation of sanitary facilities for students and teachers; specifically, latrines that are safe for women and can accommodate menstruating girls (Ball, 1998). Finally, certain groups of students are unable to attend a traditional school given cultural, physical, or other barriers. Appropriate learning environments for these students may involve outreach programs or traveling schools that cater to the needs of the individual student (MoE, 2002; Gonzales, 2000).
Major policy options include the general activities of curriculum reform, teacher training, and environmental improvements, but the education policy discourse and decision-making varies depending on the specific dynamics of each country. The cultural, institutional, political, and economic dynamics of each country play an important role in shaping the education policy process in non-industrialized countries.
Educational policy problems and potential solutions are affected by a variety of factors including the cultural, institutional, political, and economic dynamics of a country. Examination of these dynamics allows for greater understanding as to the factors that influence education policy-making within particular contexts.
In the case of education policy, the culture of a specific country or region plays a large role in the decision-making process. In both industrialized and non-industrialized countries, the history of the land and the people influences the approach to education reform (Tikly, 2001; Ball, 1998). However, non-industrialized countries often have to maneuver complex cultural and historical issues that have previously divided the nation. Reconciliation attempts directly influence a country’s ability to create a cohesive national identity which, combined with the attitudes and values of citizens, are clearly reflected in education policy decisions.
In both industrialized and non-industrialized countries, the degree of centralization within the government plays an important role in the policy making process. Countries with more centralized decision making typically experience changes more quickly due to the smaller number of people involved in the decision-making process (Tikly, 2001; Ball, 1998). Decentralized systems must labor longer to create policies that are supported by most if not all of the actors involved. Therefore decentralized systems offer more involvement of various stakeholders, creating more ownership of education policy.
Late-industrialized and non-industrialized countries often have political dynamics that differ greatly from industrialized countries. The role of the liberation party in non-industrialized countries is extremely important. Loyalty to these parties creates a lack of serious political competition from other parties (MoE, 2002, Gonzales, 2000). Given non-industrialized countries’ history of colonization, political parties have been the arenas for real educational reform.
Poverty is rampant in non-industrialized countries. Education is widely seen as the means by which to alleviate poverty in these countries (Chimombo, 2002). Many non-industrialized countries use education as a tool to improve economic conditions and spur development (Ball, 1998). The amount of money a government invests in its educational system is an indicator of the priority placed on education. Finally, globalization and international economic competitiveness clearly influence current and future education policies.
International Policy Making
In global education policy, several international agreements have been made to improve education around the world. One of the most significant international education policy agreements is the Education for All (EFA) initiative, promoted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). EFA was first launched in 1990 at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtein, Thailand (Department of Basic Education [DBE], 2010; UNESCO, 2000). The goal of this agreement is to bring quality education to every person in every community. EFA outlines six measureable education goals and strategies. After a decade of slow progress, 189 countries reaffirmed their commitment to these goals as well as to the Millennium Development Goals (UNESCO, 2000). While only one of the Millennium Development Goals specifically cites education, the remaining seven are integral components to creating universal, quality education.
International agreements such as EFA have served to guide individual countries and regions in education reform. Commitment to the EFA goals has sparked the creation of region-specific working groups to develop measures to achieve these particular goals (UNESCO, 2012). Countries use these agreements to learn from others’ successes and failures and to reflect on their own effectiveness (DBE, 2010). Although international agreements have not created policies for countries to adopt, the commitment to the goals continues to guide the policy-making process in member countries.
Comparative Cases in Education Reform: Namibia and South Africa
When examining education reform in a non-industrialized context, much can be gained by comparing the cross-national cases of Namibia and South Africa. The common history of Apartheid and Bantu education in both Namibia and South Africa help to highlight the factors that have contributed to the similarities and differences in the contemporary education policy process of this region. Namibia, as a colony of South Africa from 1915 to 1990, operated under the same segregationist conditions of the South African Apartheid state. A central pillar of the Apartheid system was the 1953 Bantu Education Act, which ensured that the majority of citizens, namely non-white populations, of both countries received substandard education (Nekhwevha, 1999). The disparate quality of education between white and black students helped maintain the inferior and subservient status of the non-white population (Christie & Collins, 1982). The common history of race-based segregation and purposeful implementation of deficient education have created similar conditions for education policy reform across both countries today.
The comparative method is employed in the subsequent sections to examine the similarities and differences in the education public policy process across our two cases and establish factors that contribute to convergence and divergence in the education policy process. Using Mill’s method of similarity and difference, we examine two cases with many similarities to determine the factors that contribute to policy differences (Gupta, 2012). Both countries struggle with the common policy problems related to language of instruction, inclusion, and inadequate facilities. Policy options considered in an attempt to address these common problems vary across the two countries. After careful examination of the common policy problems and options across Namibia and South Africa, cross-national trends are discussed and country dynamics contributing to differences in policy responses are identified.
Common Policy Problems and Related Policy Options
Attempts to overcome the legacy of Bantu education have led to common policy issues for both Namibia and South Africa in the post-Apartheid era. Multiple sources addressing education policy in these two case countries posit that the largest educational concerns facing both countries revolve around the issue of access to quality education. Three issues of access that Namibia and South Africa share are language of instruction, inclusion, and facilities.
Language of instruction. Both Namibia and South Africa have struggled to develop post-Apartheid policies that address language of instruction in public schools. The use of language as a tool for oppression during Apartheid has significantly influenced past and current policy discussions in this area. Cultural considerations have been the driving force behind contemporary language policy decisions as both countries struggle to differentiate their new independent and democratic states from the past regime.
Despite the common motivation to use language policy to firmly differentiate the new nations from the previous Apartheid state, the initial post-colonial and post-Apartheid responses to the language issue differed widely. Resistance to the continuation of the colonial language, Afrikaans, placed language policy high on Namibia’s institutional agenda (Jansen, 1995). As early as 1983, the Namibian liberation party, South West Africa’s People Organization (SWAPO), developed language policies calling for English as the new national language (Jansen, 1995). Today in Namibia, students are taught in their mother tongue from grades one through three and then solely English from grades four through twelve (MoE, 2002). The rapid transition to English as the sole language of instruction has led to many problems that the country is trying to solve today (Jansen, 1995).
South Africa chose a much different response to the post-Apartheid issue of language. In an effort to create the “Rainbow Nation” that incorporated and respected all major ethnic groups, South Africa included eleven official languages in its constitution (Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996). In education policy specifically, a push for multilingualism directed major language policy decisions. The 1997 Language in Education Policy (LiEP) allows parents, acting on behalf of their children’s language rights, to select their preferred language of instruction upon their child’s application for admission to a particular school (DBE, 1997). Today, grades one through fourth are taught in the desired language, usually the language used in the home, and in grades five through twelve a second language is also used, usually English or Afrikaans.
Several contemporary policy problems have arisen from these early language-of-instruction decisions of both countries, including lack of education materials in the selected language(s) (Gonzales, 2000), teachers unable to teach effectively in the selected language(s) (Jansen, 1995), and access to schools that offer instruction in the selected language(s) (Mda, 1997). Both countries continue to struggle to address the above problems while being mindful of the sensitive context of the language issue.
In both Namibia and South Africa, there are calls for policy to introduce English earlier in the national curriculum (Gonzales, 2000; Jansen, 1995). In Namibia there is also a push for state provision of incentives and better resources to teachers in order to motivate English improvement. Some of these incentives could include salary benefits, certificates or awards, and increased preparation time for teachers exemplifying an increase in English skills. Other incentive-based programs could be based on policy that includes penalties for those teachers whose classes fall below the national averages on examinations (Angula, 2011).
Differing from Namibia’s policy to improve a single language of instruction, in South Africa there is a strong push to improve the multilingual system while avoiding increased promotion of English and Afrikaans. There have been efforts to improve access to educational materials in all eleven official languages and assist teachers in creating and administering a multilingual curriculum (DBE, 2010).
Inclusion. Both Namibia and South Africa are struggling to implement measures to address one of the most difficult problems facing education in developing countries, reaching students with disabilities. Students with special needs are underrepresented in schools in both Namibia and South Africa. Haihambo and Lightfoot (2010) postulate that the underrepresentation of students with disabilities in Namibian schools is due to cultural myths and beliefs about people with disabilities. In the northern regions the majority of locals believe that disability stems from one of the following: witchcraft, punishment from God for wrongdoings, curse from ancestors, adultery, or intercourse with someone from a rival tribe. These attitudes diminish the sense of responsibility to invest in people with disabilities (Haihambo & Lightfoot, 2010). Because of this lack of investment, the number of teachers qualified to work with children with disabilities is extremely small.
In South Africa, several government documents explicitly emphasize the importance of education for all, especially those with disabilities (DBE, 2010; Department of Education [DoE], 2001; DBE, 1997), yet children with disabilities are still accessing education at a lower rate than students in general (DBE, 2010). Teachers are often unable to identify and attend to the special needs of students due to large class sizes, a lack of education and training, and limited support from external professionals (DoE, 2001). Namibia and South Africa continue to struggle to implement policies to overcome these barriers.
Both Namibia and South Africa have developed progressive special education policies but struggle to implement these policies. Provided that most issues of inclusion in Namibia stem from cultural and religious beliefs on the cause of disability, some scholars have advocated for the inclusion of pastors and traditional healers at the policy making table (Haihambo & Lightfoot, 2010). In South Africa policy options to improve inclusion include increasing teachers’ education and training in order to identify and assist students with disabilities, providing schools with support personnel to assist teachers, and identifying and correcting institutional barriers to learning (DoE, 2001; Charema, 2010).
Facilities. In Namibia and South Africa, access to quality education is often hindered by the lack of basic infrastructure to support educational services. One major policy controversy occurring in Namibia and South Africa today surrounds the issue of providing appropriate facilities and materials to support learning.
In Namibia, there is an extremely inequitable distribution of qualified teachers due in large part to the issue of access to appropriate housing facilities for teachers (MoE, 2002). Because of the large geographical size of Namibia and its proportionately small population, many schools are remote and located far from city centers. In order to attract teachers from cities to rural areas, the government typically makes teacher accommodation available, free of charge, to house teachers commuting from a city or nearby village. Rural schools often lack adequate teacher housing needed to attract qualified teachers (MoE, 2002; Ipinge, 2000).
In South Africa, the inequitable distribution of resources during the Apartheid-era has led to a large number of inappropriate structures operating as educational facilities today (Thomas, 1996). The Eastern Cape, one of the poorest provinces in the country, has a total of 430 inappropriate school structures, of which 395 are made entirely of mud (DBE, 2010). The lack of basic infrastructure significantly hinders school operation and derails efforts to improve access to quality education. Both Namibia and South Africa must address the inadequate facilities in order for learners to equally access quality teachers and educational institutions.
Policy options directed at improving educational facilities stem from decisions regarding the allocation of funding for facility improvement projects (Ipinge, 2000). In South Africa, the Department of Basic Education has developed an infrastructure development program that targets schools deemed to have the greatest need for infrastructure improvements. Schools at the top of the list include those without water, sanitation, electricity or those that constitute a danger to students (DBE, 2010). However, implementing this effort has come under fire recently when the Basic Education Ministry narrowly avoided a battle in court over its inability to deliver infrastructure improvements to certain provinces (Veriava, 2013).
Similarly, Namibia faces obstacles regarding implementation of policies directed at improving educational facilities. Currently, policies are in place stating that all renovations to new buildings as well as the creation of new buildings must facilitate access to learners with disabilities (MoE, 2002). In many regions, particularly rural areas, there is little to no implementation or monitoring of this policy.
Examination of the cross-national trends of Namibia and South Africa help determine the policy dynamics that contribute to variation in education policy responses as well as identify implementation of policy as the common barrier to effective reform. Namibia and South Africa have similar education outputs as well as disappointing outcomes. The factors that differentiate these two countries indicate the dynamics that influence education reform in this region.
Policy outputs. In both Namibia and South Africa there have been important developments in education policy to address issues of access to quality education. Progressive policies addressing language of instruction, special education reform, and infrastructure projects have been adopted in each country. Additionally both Namibia and South Africa have devoted a significant portion of their operating budgets to education provision. Between 20 and 25 percent of Namibia’s budget is spent on education and total public spending on education has increased as a factor of five from 1992 to 2002 (Cherema, 2010). In South Africa, over 18 percent of total government expenditure is allocated for education expenses (DBE, 2010).
Policy outcomes. Despite progressive policies and significant spending, educational outcomes in both countries remain largely unchanged. In Namibia only about 76 percent of children of primary school age are enrolled in schools, and only 78 percent of those students complete primary school (UNICEF, 2008). The problem does not improve at the secondary school level where only 56 percent of students are enrolled and only 50 percent of those students complete grade 12 (UNICEF, 2008). Although South Africa has higher percentages of eligible students officially enrolled in primary and secondary school, there are still large numbers of students without access to education, and the pass rates for students on the national matriculation exam has actually decreased from 66.6 percent in 2006 to 60.6 percent in 2009 (DBE, 2010). The disparity between quality outputs and disappointing outcomes can be explained by the overall lack of implementation of education policy reform. Both countries struggle to ensure that policy decisions are implemented and have few measures in place to monitor and evaluate education policy provisions.
Understanding policy reform. Comparison of Namibia and South Africa’s education public policy reveals several factors that influence responses to common education policy problems. First, the political context of a country can have tremendous influence over the policy actors involved in the decision-making process. In both Namibia and South Africa the party of liberation plays an important role in public policy. Although other political parties are present in both Namibia and South Africa, the parties of liberation, SWAPO and ANC respectively, continue to dominate the policy-making system through their continued symbol of liberation, regardless of their record of governance. Interest groups outside of these dominant parties must devise strategies such as mobilizing the population to protest and bringing issues to the judiciary in order to influence the dominant party to act on behalf of their interests. In Namibia teachers are increasingly unionizing and recently went on strike to fight for smaller class sizes, more classroom resources, and higher wages (Kapitako, 2012). The media has also played an important role in Namibian education reform by bringing these issues to public awareness (Ipinge, 2000; Kapitako, 2012). In South Africa, the media is inordinately powerful in influencing education policy. The most successful interest groups in South Africa are those that can effectively use the media to promote their positions (John, 2013). The judiciary in South Africa also plays an important role in the policy process through liberal judicial review. Courts are often asked to step-in to rule on policy decisions and implementation (John, 2013; Veriava, 2013).
Aside from political interests, education policy reform is heavily influenced by economic considerations. Both Namibia and South Africa cite economic interests as a key motivator behind education reform (MoE, 2002; DBE, 2010). Both countries experience high poverty and unemployment rates and view education reform as the primary measure to reduce poverty and increase global competitiveness. Policies have been created with an explicitly economic purpose. For example, Namibia’s choice of English as the countries official language was clearly influenced by the global nature of English and the opportunities it affords (Jansen, 1995). The cultural considerations in South Africa overrode the economic consideration of promotion of English, and the differences in the resulting language of instruction policy reflect these different dynamics.
Institutional factors can also help explain the variance between Namibian and South African education policy decision. First, the demographics of Namibia and South Africa differ greatly. Namibia has a population of just 1.8 million across thirteen distinct regions (Angula, 2011) whereas South Africa has a population over 50 million across nine provinces (DBE, 2010). Also, the degree of centralization in each country is markedly different. The vast majority of power in Namibia comes from the central government and education policy decisions are devised and implemented from the top (MoE, 2002). South Africa has a much more complex and decentralized education system. At the national level the Department of Education is responsible for higher-level decision-making about schooling and ensuring proper administration by each of the nine Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) (DBE, 2010). Additionally, individual school governance is the responsibility of a locally elected School Governing Body (SGBs) (DBE, 2010). The degree of centralization influences the nature of policies adopted and the impact that various policy actors can have of education policy decisions.
Finally, cultural factors play an important role in the education policy-making process. Cultural considerations cannot be ignored when making education policy decisions in this region. Especially in the post-Apartheid context, issues of culture play a prominent role. Policy issues related to education are heavily influenced by public attitudes and become more delicate to maneuver due to public pressure to move beyond the previous state and develop a distinct national identity (Nekhwevha, 1999). Cultural influences have contributed to different policy decision across Namibia and South Africa. For example, Namibian culture contributed to adoption of a single-language as the national language and cultural views of students with disabilities call for specific policies that differ greatly from those considered in South Africa. Differences in culture can help explain differences in policy decision-making.
In non-industrialized countries, reaching the goals of Education for All will not be a quick or an easy process. The achievement of EFA requires a sustained effort from political leaders as well as populations of stakeholders and the international community. The issue of access to education is an overarching problem that is extremely complex and manifests in differing ways from country to country (Chimombo, 2005). In general, policies regarding the provision of physical access to educational facilities are easier to secure than policies concerning the quality of education a student receives (Gonzales, 2000; Chimombo, 2005). Though it may be more difficult, non-industrialized countries must continue to demand quality education and support policies that promote not only appropriate educational facilities, but also curriculum reform and teacher preparation and training.
Cultural, institutional, political, and economic dynamics each play an integral role in the decision-making process in non-industrialized countries. Since countries are so varied, analyzing these dynamics creates a context or lens through which to compare and contrast policy decisions. This diversity is also part of the reason that implementation of education policies is so difficult (Chimombo, 2005). In general, a country creates policies to meet the needs of the majority (MoE, 2002; Ipinge, 2000). In countries with an extremely heterogeneous population, governments attempt to meet the needs of the majority, thereby leaving out a large proportion of the population. Specifically in education policy, this translates into groups of people completely left out of the policy process. As non-industrialized countries move forward they will have to widen their view of access to include a larger population from start to finish.
Both Namibia and South Africa continue to struggle in the implementation of effective education policies to overcome issues of access resulting from the previous Apartheid state. The immense diversity in each country makes addressing the needs of specific groups of people extremely difficult. Namibia’s great diversity, but relatively small population lends itself to a more centralized government. Contrastingly, South Africa’s vast land mass and population requires more localized autonomy in order to meet the demands of the citizenry.
The specific issues of access that both countries are currently facing are language of instruction, inclusion, and inadequate facilities. Policy decisions made shortly after the end of Apartheid influenced past and contemporary language policy. Similarly, each country faces different challenges in addressing barriers to inclusion and as such are considering policy options to address this issue. Finally, inadequate facilities are hindering students’ access to quality education. The shared history has created common problems, but differences in policy dynamics have influenced the policy options created.
Looking to the future, research suggests that both countries will continue to create policies that facilitate growth toward distinct national identities. Namibia has only experienced 23 years as an independent nation. Because of this, Namibia will continue the struggle to incorporate its traditional values and beliefs with the modern demands of today’s world. Educational policy change will evolve rapidly as the first generation of completely independent Namibian’s comes of age. South Africa, being more established and economically competitive, will experience more pressure from the industrialized world to create equitable education policies. This pressure will force policy makers to rethink the current state of access to quality education and examine faults within the implementation of current policies.
Examining education policy problems and options in non-industrialized countries has created a framework through which to view the current policy making process in Namibia and South Africa. Generalizations of policy problems and options can be made, though conclusions and recommendations can only be drawn through analysis of the specific policy dynamics of individual countries. Namibia and South Africa lend themselves well to this comparative method and create an interesting case study through which to view the past, present, and future of education policy in the context of non-industrialized countries.
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