The republic of Namibia, situated on the south west coast of Africa attained national independence from the former apartheid South African government on 21 March 1990, after many years of political, diplomatic and armed, national liberation struggle. Namibia is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the republics of Angola and Zambia to the north and north-east respectively and the republics of Botswana and South Africa to the east and south respectively.
The country spreads over an area of 824,269 square kilometres (sq. kms) marked by big contrasts consisting of the Namib desert along the entire west coast and the Kalahari desert along the central eastern border with Botswana, making it the driest country south of the equator, characterised by frequent droughts.
The northern parts of the country receive an average of about 700 mm of rain per year during good rains, while the average rainfall along the coast and the southern part varies between 50 mm and 100 mm. This means that crop cultivation is more favourable in the northern parts of the country than the southern parts. Cattle farming can be found in the north and central regions and in the drier southern parts of the country, only sheep and goat farming are common.
The distribution of the population follows the rainfall pattern, with over 60 percent of the population living in the northern parts of the country, where the population density in some areas is 100 people per square. The remaining 40 percent of the population is sparsely distributed in the rest of the country with isolated concentration of population in towns like Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Keetmanshoop.
The southern parts of the country have less than 10 percent of the population or 0.5 persons per square kilometre. With a population growth rate of between 2.6 – 3.0 percent per annum, the demand for school places is ever increasing and exerts further pressure on the available resources.
Even if the country is well endowed with good deposits of uranium, diamonds, and other minerals as well as having rich fishing grounds, there are wide disparities in the distribution of incomes. With a per capita income of US$2,000 Namibia may be regarded as a middle income country but the “richest 10% of society still receives 65% of incomes leaving only 35% for the remaining 90%. In other words, half of Namibia’s population survives on approximately 10% of the average income, while 5% enjoys incomes that are five times the average. The ratio of per capita income between the top 5% and the bottom 50% is about 50:1.”(UNDP, Namibia Human Development Report 1998, pp 7) This provides a brief understanding of the socio-economic context under which the education system has to develop in Namibia.
A description of each of the 13 educational regions is given below:
This region is the furthest from the capital city - Windhoek. Apart from Katima Mulilo town, the rest of the region is rural and most of the people are subsistence farmers. According to the Ministry of Health and Social Services this is a region which had the highest infection rate of HIV/AIDS in 2002. It has an area of 14,538 square kilometres of land, a total population of 79,826 in 2001. The region has a total of 95 schools, 23,277 learners and 1,062 teachers. The region briefly experienced some political disturbances in 1999, but calm has since returned to the region.
This region is found along the central western side of Namibia. The major towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay are found in this region. Like other regions along the west coast, the western part of this region is covered by the Namib desert. It has an area of 63,579 square kilometres and a population of 107,663 people with 57 schools, 21,574 learners and 828 teachers.
This is the second largest region with a population of 68,249 people, spread over an area of 109,651 square kilometres. The region has 58 schools with 19,731 learners and 792 teachers.
Much of this region is mainly rural, and inhabited by subsistence crop farmers. The only urban centre is Rundu town. The region has seen a rapid increase in the number of learners since 1995 partly due to migration. The region spread over an area of 48,463 square kilometres with a population of 202,694 people. Most of the people are concentrated along the Kavango River for easy access to water. The region has 313 schools, with 62,441 learners and 2,179 teachers.
This is the biggest region, with a landmass of 161,215 square kilometres and a population of about 69,329 people. It covers almost one third of the country, spreading over much of the southern part of Namibia. However, this area is sparsely populated with concentration of population in towns such as Keetmanshhoop, Karasburg, Orangemund and Luderitz. The people in the countryside are mainly subsistence small livestock farmers.
This is the region in which Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia is located. It has an area of 37,007 square kilometres and it is the most populated region with a total population of 250,262, most of whom are urbanised. It is an area with a mixture of occupations from the urban working class to farm workers employed on a few large commercial farms, in addition to small-holdings and subsistence livestock farmers.
Situated in the north-western corner of the country is covered by the Namib desert along the west coast. It has an area of 115,293 square kilometres, and a total population of 68,735 people. It is home to the semi-nomadic people of Namibia. The Ministry has had to introduce mobile schools in this region to cater for the children of the nomadic community. It has a total of 51 schools, with 14,934 learners taught by 557 teachers.
This is one of the smaller regions in size, covering an area of 10,703 square kilometres, but it is the 3rd most densely populated region with a total population of 228,384 people, and 21 persons per square kilometre. It is situated in the central northern most part of the country. It has 209 schools and 80,302 learners with 2,204 teachers.
This region is located in the central -eastern part of the country. It has an area of 84,612 square kilometres and 68,039 people. It has 42 schools, 14,256 learners and 556 teachers.
This is another northern most region which has a size of 26,573 square kilometres. It is the second most populated region with a total population of 228,842 people. Ninety-nine percent of the people are rural dwellers and women head more than 60 percent of the households. The region has 263 schools, 88,901 learners and 2,897 teachers
Oshikoto is one of the northern regions with an area of 38,653 square kilometres and a total population of 161,007 people. Farming is the main source of income for 56 percent of the people. There are 150 schools in the region, with 50,675 learners and 1,581 teachers.
The region has a landmass of 105,185 square kilometres and 135,384 people. Most of the households (67%) are headed by males and 55 percent of the population are wage/salary earners. The region has 56 schools, 30,911 learners and 1,001 teachers.
This is the smallest region covering an area of 8,653 square kilometres, but has a total population of and 161,916, with a population density of 19 persons per square kilometre. Seventy percent of the people live in rural environment. The region has 53,041 learners who go to 122 schools and taught by 1,702 teachers.
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Annual population growth:
*latest data as of March 2009 from UNESCO Institute for Statistics.