The desirability of a national body having oversight of certification and linkages between the various education and training sectors was promulgated during the formulation of government education and training policies in the post-independence years. The Government of the Republic of Namibia foresaw the need for a central body to assume responsibility for identifying the competences needed within any occupational area and for establishing policies and procedures that led to the required knowledge and skills being recognised and certificated.
At the same time, Government saw the need for a central body able to mobilise national stakeholders towards:
- specifying the types and levels of competences needed in qualifications
- evaluating training offered by public and private providers, and
- determining whether required knowledge, understanding and skills were being developed.
In the policy document in which the Government’s plans for education and training were laid out, Toward Education for All: A Development Brief for Education, Culture and Training (1993) the Namibia Qualifications Authority was also identified as the independent body able to recognise the equivalences between the different education and training pathways available to Namibians.
Government’s plans for the NQA were finalised in the enactment of 1996 legislation that set up the NQA.
Factors contributing to the establishment of the NQA
A number of significant events and trends influenced the policy developments leading to the establishment of the NQA. Included amongst these were:
- the need to redress inequities and imbalances arising from the colonial and apartheid regimes prior to Namibia securing independence
- the emergence of the global economy where services and goods were traded commodities on an enlarged and more open market
- the emergence of the knowledge-based society were the intellectual skills of a nation’s people became the factor most influencing competitive advantage
- an increasingly competitive economic sector where the cost of any unnecessary retraining of graduates often cut profit margins below those that allowed sustained existence in the market
- an increasingly wealthy and mobile global population with access to wider and more flexible education options.
Namibia could not afford to be left out of the global and knowledge-based economies. It also desired to be a contributor to the global market and not a passive recipient and participant.
Government’s vision was for a skilled and knowledgeable people equipped to participate in and contribute towards the growth of Namibia as a lead player. To achieve this vision, the Government saw the need for an education system that was:
- accessible to all people throughout their lifetime
- based on equity and allowing for affirmative action to achieve equality
- learner-centred rather than having decisions based on the wishes of the institution and teachers
- democractic in its processes so as to equip people with models and skills towards creating a more democratic nation
- premised on quality, where qualifications and education pathways were fit for fit purposes – they were relevant and appropriate to Namibia.
Principles of the NQF
The motivations for Government underpinned the principles of the National Qualifications Framework which was to the primary mechanism for achieving greater quality in education and training. The NQF was be:
- comprehensive in its recognition of all learning and all qualifications attained in the country
- cognisant of each individual’s right and desire for access to lifelong learning through different pathways to achieve success
- directed towards quality through the development of standards-based qualifications that would recognise outcomes no matter how achieved
- capable of redressing past injustices, particularly through the recognition of prior learning
- relevant, with a closer interaction between what was taught and assessed with the competences required in and across career structures
- democratic, proving for stakeholder engagement and participation in meaningful ways
- integrated so that learners might progress horizontally and vertically in a more free and efficient manner so that the prospects of reaching locked into dead-end programmes were minimised.