6 Achieve universal primary education

Where we are?

 Himba women in class
The target of 100 per cent literacy by 2015 is likely to be achieved. The survival rate of pupils to grade 8 increased from 59 per cent in 1992 to 72 per cent in 2009. Photo - UNDP

Of the three MDG 2 targets that Namibia has set for herself to achieve by the year 2015, the net enrolment in primary education target has been achieved, the literacy rate is on target to be achieved, while the survival to Grade 8 target is not achievable if current trends continue. The net enrolment ratio in primary education stood at 99.6 percent in 2012.  However, the gross enrolment rate for the past few years highlights inefficiencies in enrolling maximum numbers of children in age appropriate grades. The survival rate for Grade 7s was 86 percent in 2012, 14 percentage points short of the 100 percent target. The literacy rate for 15 to 24 year olds was close to the 100 percent target at 94 percent in the year 2011. It is likely that the literacy rate target can be achieved by 2015.

As with school enrolments, regional variations in literacy are evident, with Kunene having the lowest (59.4 percent) literacy rate in 2011, followed by Omaheke (70.7 percent) and Kavango (76.4 percent). The region with the highest literacy rate in 2011 was Khomas (97.4 percent), followed by Erongo (96.7 percent) and Karas (96.6 percent). This follows regional wealth trends, with the poorer regions having lower literacy rates and richer regions having higher literacy rates. One of the main thrusts of Vision 2030 is to transform Namibia into a high income, knowledge based economy. Such an economy would be expected to alleviate poverty, satisfy the labour market and ultimately support Namibia’s transition into an industrialised nation. Namibia has consistently shown commitment to improved education with innovative interventions such as the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme, continued curriculum development, free primary education, the official reinstitution of early childhood development, and infrastructural development.

However, the following challenges persists poor school management, lack of motivation among many educators, poor physical learning environments, slow roll-out of early childhood development, poverty, malnutrition and high levels of domestic violence. Some of the interventions that could be considered to expedite MDG implementation are: improve school management structures at school, circuit, regional and national levels, strengthen procurement and distribution of textbooks especially to rural areas, continued improvement of physical learning environments, expedite roll-out of early childhood development centres, expand the school feeding scheme to include all children, enact the Child Care and Protection Bill, implement and enforce school codes of conduct for teachers and learners, and implement the teenage pregnancy policy. Key interventions to be considered for the remaining MDG period are: increase financial, material and human resources to implement legislation, policies and plans, ensure that gender-specific recommendations and significant action steps are included in the review of NDP 4, strengthen gender mainstreaming across different sectors, continue to expand nutritional programmes to support pregnant women and children, continue with awareness raising, and strengthen all interventions towards eradicating gender-based violence.

Status at a glance




TARGET (2015)




Net enrolment ratio in primary education (%)

89% (1992)1

99.6% (2012)2



Proportion of pupils starting Grade 1 who reach last grade of primary (survival to Grade 8) (%)

59% (1992)1

86% (2012)2


Not on target

Literacy rate of 15-24 years-olds, women and men (%)

76% (1991)1

94% (2011)3


On target

Targets for MDG2
  1. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
    • Net enrolment ratio in primary education
    • Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
    • Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men