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'I am here. I am back with a bang - Dr Abraham Iyambo

By Ashok Iyor

My brothers and sisters, this is Abraham Iyambo. I am here. I am back with a bang! I feel new and refreshed! I am not accustomed to being away from work for any period of time. So, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to stay away for an extended period of time.

I am deeply indebted to His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba, the Founding President, Dr. Sam Nujoma, to my colleagues, members of Cabinet and Parliament and in particular to my Deputy Minister, Dr. David Namwandi. I am also particularly grateful to all of you in the Ministry who maintained and continued building on the solid foundation we have been building together.

It is indeed a feeling of great pleasure to be reunited with the educational family and fraternity after a long period of absence.

In order to get up to speed with activities of. the Ministry, I intend to spend the next few days in intensive report- back meetings with staff of the Ministry of Education based at the Headquarters in Windhoek. My intention is also directed to all our partners in Education.

I am meeting with you first today to show my respect and appreciation for the hard work to date, but also to assess progress of our common ideal of providing quality education. In relation to my health, I feel that my health is a private issue.

I was, however overwhelmed and humbled by the outpour of concern. I also feel that as a political office bearer in charge of a Ministry which receives one of the largest budget allocation, it is not just about me.

It is everybody's concern. I understand that. I would thus like to clarify my health position. I am a human like you with flesh, blood and bones. I am not immune to sickness. What happened is that my blood pressure went uncontrollably high and placed my body under severe strain.

The blood pressure temporarily affected my vision and speech. Extended rest and immediate adoption of healthy living was the only solution. After extensive medical analyses of all kinds, my doctors have given me a bill of good-health.

The extended leave left me torn between my health and my responsibilities to the country. While I was initially frustrated, I now understand and respect that it was necessary. I am grate ful for all your prayers and well wishes. The silver lining is that through this important life lesson, I learned a premium lesson. At some point in any human being's life, the power above chooses it necessary to remind us of His presence.

During my leave, I was forced into a moment of pause and into deep reflection. This was my chance to reboot my computer. I now have renewed energy and a fresh perspective. I have emerged stronger, wiser, healthier and more determined to make a meaningful contribution to this beautiful country.

I am back with a bang. My health scare is in the past. The doctors did their part and gave me the treatment that I needed. My current dream is to share all these experiences, painful as they may be, through a book. I trust that I will be able to convey this story to you as an educational pursuit in cautionary discourse.

May I be clear that I am publically talking about a private matter. This is not only because of my duties and responsibilities as a public office bearer, but also as a human being hoping that others will learn from my lesson.

A question in the mind of many is possibly "will Dr. Iyambo ever get sick again?"According to the 2008 WHO estimates, raised blood pressure affects 46% of Africans.

In Namibia, 43.4% of our population suffers from raised blood pressure. I therefore, speak on behalf of 46% Africans and 43.4% Namibians who suffer from raised blood pressure that we should not be discriminated against.

We can do any type of work under any environment. What is expected is simply to control and treat blood pressure and to adhere to certain principles and lifestyles. Raised blood pressure is caused by many factors such as eating too much salt, being overweight, not getting enough physical exercise, hereditary disposition and stressful lives.

High blood pressure can however be treated or controlled through various means but is primarily dependant on lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy diet reduced intake of salted food and saturated fat, maintaining a healthy weight, exercise, minimal alcohol consumption, regular check of blood pressure and medication etc. While it can be potentially fatal if not managed, it is not a terminal illness.

To answer the hypothetical question of whether I will get sick again to the point it materially affects my ability to perform my duties, now or in the future. The short answer is this: My Doctors say no, as long as I maintain a healthy lifestyle. I also say no as I am committed to lead a balanced, healthy lifestyle.

The reality however is that the health of everybody, rich or poor, young or old, belongs in the hands of the Almighty. My future is in His hands. Next time you ask me if I will fall sick again, I will tell you to ask my manufacturer above! As you can hear, I have renewed speech and vigor. I cannot say it loud enough that when I was in hospital, my people, I missed you. I thought so much about the children and teachers, managers, our education system, policies and strategies we have to implement.

I am thankful to so many people that it would be impossible to name them all today.

The future.. a call to believe in ourselves and succeed

During my "reboot" period, I became a prolific athlete! Although not going to the Olympics (yet..) I challenge all of you at the Ministry to race 100 meter with me. I have altered my diet nowadays I eat only healthy food and rest well.

In the 13 Regions, it is now hard work, honesty and dedication. I am well rested, had ample time to reflect in detail about the running of our education, the future of Namibia and what is to be done to succeed. I believe in the ability and potential of Namibia and each one of you - you are valuable assets. Education is our joint responsibility.

It is formidable bedrock upon which our nation is hinged. Our success is in our hands.

I believe that men and women at the Ministry of Education will succeed, will deliver and win. We will as a team succeed because of our collective passion to guarantee the future of the Namibian child and all its inhabitants. I believe in our collective wisdom, solid commitment, diligence and "can do" attitude.

Yes, I believe in our teachers, inspectors, principals, directors in the towns and villages of Namibia. My prayer and call is for the nation to repose respect, dignity, care and love on the educators. I implore the whole nation to hold hands as we refocus, reshape, re-orient and strengthen our education.

Quality must be asserted. I reassure teachers and lecturers that with them, Namibia's torch is brighter. I am proud to be leading such a formidable team, with collective destiny, and decisiveness. At this moment I demand work ethics, integrity, productivity and willingness to deliver quality ededucation. I believe in the learners, students, lecturers, managers, labourers at all of our institutions of learning in the length and breadth of the Republic of Namibia. Yes, I believe that we must all sacrifice, be results oriented and be willing to go an extra mile.

It is a tremendous responsibility but we can do it together. Let's be an inspired team, exemplary role models ready to get our hands dirty. I believe in you, irrespective of the numerous challenges and obstacles. Believe in yourself, unleash the hidden potential.

Allow respect and discipline to permeate and flourish in our children. Let our Ministry and Institutions linked to it be well run with intense supervision and leadership. Let us be on track and do our work according to design and on time.

Let us relook at our foundations, character and priorities. Let our learners and students have positive energy, self confidence, creativity and determination. Let morality prevail at all our institutions of learning. Most importantly, let us arm ourselves with the right armour .... healthy bodies. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "The plans that I have for you is plans to prosper and to be in good health." This is the master plan of the manufacturer, let us implement it so we prosper and our country prospers.

Starting from today, 2nd July 2012, I will be receiving extensive briefings from the Hon. Deputy Minister, Permanent Secretary, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Under Secretaries, Directors and their Deputies and other colleagues in position of responsibility. I have also asked to meet a number of our stakeholders such as NANTU, NANSO, TUN, NIED, UNAM, IUM, Polytechnic, NTA, NQA, NCHE, NAMCOL, Research, Science and Technology (RST) and our development partners. While I was in hospital, I gave a lot of directives to my Deputy Minister and management with issues to be implemented. I would therefore like to receive briefing on the following priority areas:

1. Implementation status of all the Resolutions emanating from the National Conference on Education that took place from 27 June - 1 July 2011. Cabinet has subsequently given directives on short term priorities from 2012/13 to be fully implemented. We should take the implementation of the Cabinet Decision very seriously and adhere without fail...

1 .1 One of the noticeable directive is that we must adhere to the Constitutional provision, Article 20 Section (2) that reads: "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". I will receive full briefing on the latest development on the implementation plan towards Free Primary Education.

1.2 Reviewing of Education Act - How far have we gone?

1 .3 Prevention and Management of learner pregnancy and shebeens near schools - have we received feedback from the Law Reform and Development Commission?

1 .4 Decentralisation and deconcentration in the Education sector and structure of the Ministry of Education - are we on track?

1 .5 Consultation and finalisation of Basic Education Curriculum Reform - how far are we?

1.6 Finalisation of the Ministry's Strategic Plan - When will it be launched?

1 .7 Expansion of school feeding program; teachers' housing; hostels; expansion of schools building; laboratories and libraries. Are these reflected in the budget?

1.8 Procurement of text books - Our strategy is that by the end of 2013 Namibian children should not share textbooks.

This is to be achieved through the procurement of textbooks with funds from Namibian Government and MCA. What progress have we made?

1.9 Automatic promotion, how far is the review of this policy?

1 .1 0 Internships/Job attachment for students at national and foreign institutions. What are the latest developments?

1 .11 Re-arrangement capital budget and budget implementation and revision of the levels of capital and recurrent budgets - of the N$9.4 billion only budget 6% is for capital budget.

2. Implementation of MCA funds for Education. Are we spending the money as allocated to improve the quality of teaching and learning?

3. Planning and Financial control/management- Have these been attended to?

4. Education for All and Millennium Development Goals - How far has Namibia advanced in the implementation of these goals?

5. Reform of Higher Education; expansion of Higher Education institutions and make higher education affordable - UNAM and Polytechnic as per directives of the Cabinet. I will be briefed on the latest development.

6. English proficiency programme - how far has the CPD unit advanced in the implementation process?

7. Training of teachers at UNAM - Is the survey conducted to determine the demand and supply of teachers for the next three years, especially in the area of Pre-primary; Lower primary and African Languages? What is the current status?

8. Education input and output and the need for the achievement of Vision 2030 - will we through Education meet Vision 2030?

9. Efficiency and effectiveness of Namibia Students Financial Assistant Fund. Is it effective and how are we addressing the bottleneck?

10. Situation of street kids, orphans, yulnerable children, children living with disabilities - Are all Namibian children accessing schools in line with the Constitution?

11. Readiness for Grade 10 and 12 for 2012 Examinations have preparations started? Are learners ready? We must be ready now.

12. Vocational Training Centres (VTC) - Its quality must be strengthened and expansion is needed to accommodate more graduates from Secondary school.

13. VTC subjects/curriculum - How far is the transformation process?

14. Introduction of the Training levy - How far is the work on this?

15. ETSIP - What is the level of implementation of ETSIP 1 and preparation for ETSIP 2? 16. NAMCOL - Teachers recruitment and expansion of NAMCOL centres - has this been attended to?

17. Information and Communication Technology - ICT education at all schools - are we heeding the call of His Excellency the President? To what extend are we implementing conthe curriculum in this aspect?

18. Maintenance and renovation of schools - have we prioritised this item?

19. Events at tertiary institutions - what have the investigations revealed and the way forward? 20. National Library and Community Libraries. Are they functioning and serving the needs of our clients?

21. Transport for students at Tertiary Institutions; How far is the discussion with City of Windhoek taken?

22. Research, Science and Innovation - Has the work on these commenced in earnest? 23. TIPEEG Projects: To what extend is the Ministry of Education benefiting from this project?

Once I have received all these briefings, we will be working together. I need your commitment and passion, and this we do for the sake of the Namibian child and the future of our country.





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