Namibia is relatively stable politically. Social services delivery protests are not common in the country despite the appalling levels of basic social services provision. Media freedom is guaranteed in the constitution but the state broadcaster, Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), controls radio and television and expresses official opinions of the SWAPO led government.
The Namibia constitution guarantees freedom of association and assembly. But the country lacks a vibrant civil society movement. There are a relatively fair number of NGOs who participate in Civil Society forums, to push government towards accountability on service delivery.
Namibia’s economy depends primarily on mining – it is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world’s fifth largest producer of uranium.Nevertheless, about one-half of the population still lives below the international poverty line and the economy suffers greatly from the effects of HIV/AIDS.
Significant and fundamental weaknesses still persist, referring specifically to the untenable unemployment situation, lack of skills and productivity that lead to extreme poverty and economic inequalities. Namibia is facing a critical youth unemployment crisis as no less than 75 per cent of the country’s youth were unemployed according to 2011 statistics, a situation far worse than Namibia’s overall unemployment figure of 51,2 per cent. Yet, the expansion of infrastructure, and the agricultural sector provides significant potential for job creation.
In what regards education, Namibia has a progressive early childhood development policy. Some estimates reveal that about 32% of the children between the ages of 3 and 6 are enrolled in early childhood development programmes. However, these are not easily accessible to the SAN communities within Namibia which are highly marginalised and excluded from socio and political issues. The Government of Namibia has invested between 20-25% of its budget in education since independence in 1990, and vast improvements have been made in terms of developing a national and regional education system. Since 2000, the enrolment rate in primary education has increased to over 90%, but with a huge margin of drop outs from the SAN communities. These drop outs are attributed to bullying, lack of support from families, as confronted to being forced to expose children to new environments in hostels located at more than 20km from their dwellings, Government has not provided schools for the SAN who reside in informal settlement in the peripheries of Namibia.
For that reason, for the minority San population access to education is almost impossible. The language issue is another barrier. . Discrimination by the majority population has also made access to schools more difficult for San children. This is quite a humiliation, especially on a country that claims to be a non-racial and inclusive society.
Though rich in mineral resources, economic and social potential, a large portion of the population of Namibia is still poor, face hunger, deprivation and chronic economic insecurity. Early Childhood Development (ECD) and pre-primary education are widely recognized as having a significant performance of children in basic education programmes. They lay the foundations for acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills, they considerably reduce dropout and repetition rates and if well managed, they generate a predisposition of the child towards learning and attending school. The repetition rate for Namibia in grade 1 was 18.8% and the drop-out rate 4.2% in 2005, higher than any comparable SADC country. The situation is even worse for the Namibian San.
The San in Namibia number approximately 35,000 people, with 6 distinct language and cultural groups along with numerous subgroups. Whilst some traditional livelihoods remain, the majority are struggling on the verges of the modern economy in which they lack land and educational rights and are largely dependent on food aid or extremely poorly paid jobs. The Namibian government, whilst viewing San education in an increasingly positive light, does not have resources or sufficient expertise (few people speak San languages outside of communities themselves) to address San educational needs, and little progress has been made over the last decade. San communities display education levels and literacy rates that are significantly below national averages and this contributes to the on-going poverty and marginalisation experienced.The Namibian Ministry of Education (MoE) estimates there were 7,000 San children enrolled in Namibian schools in 2008 – leaving an estimated 10,000 San children of a school going age who are not
attending schools (MoE Education Management Information System 2008). For those San children who do manage to enter schools the dropout rates are severe – on average only 1.8% of San learners enrolling in grade 1 make it through to senior secondary school. This is 7 times lower than the Namibian average (EMIS 2008) and consequently only a handful San make it to tertiary education. While the government and most organisations have tried to reduce the educational and economic gap that exist between the san and other groups over the years, this has been done at the expense of more equally important rights, like the child’s right to play. For example, early childhood centres have been opened in most San communities with no playing ground equipment because the “main need” has been determined to be access to early childhood education. There is no doubt that if a child’s right to play is embraced at this critical level of development, a child will be able to develop holistically and perform even much better in later life.