Building Peaceful Inclusive Schools for Inclusive Education: Is Namibia on the Transformation Path?

Building Peaceful Inclusive Schools for Inclusive Education: Is Namibia on the Transformation Path?

Cynthy K. Haihambo (University of Namibia, Namibia) and Hilda N. Shiimi (Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Namibia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7476-7.ch014
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Namibia is home to a diverse population in terms of race, ethnicity, socio-cultural status, culture, language, religion, abilities, and tradition. Before independence, race was the main variable in determining the quality of education one would receive. Upon independence, Namibians where determined to do away with all forms of inequality in education by adopting the Education for All philosophy. Namibia is signatory to various international conventions including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Salamanca Declaration. The findings suggest that, even though school principals and teachers seemingly support inclusion, it could be deduced that they either have a limited understanding and far-fetched understanding of what inclusive education really means.
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Education being a fundamental human right, Namibia has committed to render effectively that right by articulating it in the Constitution and other legal documents. Article 20 (1)(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia stipulates that:

All persons shall have the right to education

Primary education shall be compulsory and the state shall provide reasonable facilities to render effective this right for every resident within Namibia, by establishing and maintaining state schools at which primary education will be provided free of charge.

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is committed to ensure that the major goals of education namely access, equity, quality and democracy are attained (Ministry of Education and Culture [MEC], 2003). The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture in Namibia is also a signatory to a number of international agreements and national legislations and policies (Ministry of Education [MoE], 2013). In this regard Namibia reaffirmed international commitments made at the World Declaration on Education for All (1990) and the Salamanca Conference (1994) on special needs education.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Exclusion: Exclusion is a process by which people are isolated or segregated from benefitting from services being offered to others due to the diversity they present. Exclusion can be intentional or unintentional.

Indigenous Minority Groups: Namibia has two major ethnic groups with very distinct lifestyles and beliefs. Both the Ovahimba and related groups classified under the HIPO (Himba Indigenous People Organization) umbrella live in remote rural areas and maintain indigenous nomadic cultures and lifestyles. In their natural environment, both these communities live far from services such as schools, hospitals, information centers, etc. Because of their cultures, they are often discriminated against or prejudiced. They regrettably become victims of discrimination by “mainstream” communities.

Sexual Orientation: It refers to the way people define themselves as sexual beings. People who have an inclination/intimate attraction towards people of the same sex as her/himself are referred to as gay (men attracted to men) or lesbian (women attracted to women). However, some people are attracted to both men and women. These preferences and others all fall within the continuum of sexual orientation.

San Communities: San or Saan peoples are members of various Khoesan-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherer groups representing the first nation of Southern Africa. In Namibia, many San people are poor, do not own property, and live on the margins of society. They are often subjected to discrimination. Their traditional lifestyle does not accommodate school-based education.

Diversity: In the context of this chapter, diversity refers to the various needs of learners arising from their physical, emotional, psycho-social, intellectual, socio-political, socio-cultural, and economic characteristics. In school settings, when one is different from others that education or the environment needs to be adapted to suit them, they are classified as having special or diverse needs. If their needs are not attended to, their learning and socialization could be negatively affected.

Inclusive Education Practices: There are practices that demonstrates consideration for one’s special or diverse needs. By these practices, the playing field is levelled to ensure that those that do not fall within the average range are included in education and livelihood.

Diverse Needs: These are a range of above or below average needs of children resulting from due to their socio-economical, physical, emotional, intellectual, and/or social characteristics. These needs contribute to additional needs/special needs of learners that, if not effectively addressed in most cases, pose barriers to learning.

Inclusive Schools: These are the schools that enroll and provide education to all the learners irrespective of their abilities, disabilities, gender, social statues, religion, or culture. However, in Namibia, schools that officially enroll children with one or other impairment, either by way of a school decision of directive by the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture, are regarded as “inclusive schools.”

Peaceful, Inclusive Schools: This term refers to schools in which all learners, irrespective of their special needs and characteristics, are accepted, embraced, and enabled to participate and benefit from education. It is schools in which stigma, discrimination, and any other form of violence are not tolerated or condoned and in which systems are put in place to address barriers to learning and socialization.

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