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The Unique History of Education in Namibia
Real progress in improving education in Namibia did not occur until after their Independence Day on March 21, 1990. The system prior to 1990 was ridden with apartheid generation policies that encouraged institutional racism across all levels of government.

The constitution of the new government guaranteed the right to education for all of its citizens. Specifically, free primary education, grades 1-7, and access to secondary education contingent on the success of the student and ability for that student to pay tuition. Along with guaranteeing education as a right, the new constitution abolished the apartheid-style funding system that had previously existed.

Between 1990 and the early 2000s, the country made great strides in terms of improving education. Enrollment in primary education increased from 60 to 95 percent, there was a 30 percent increase in the teaching workforce, and 3,000 new classrooms were built. But there were still questions about the quality and relevance of the curriculum, the shortage of overall schools, the availability of qualified teachers for those schools, and a lack of enrollment in secondary education due to it being cost prohibitive.

These items were taken into consideration by the government and they responded with the Education Act of 2001 that extended free tuition to all citizens seeking secondary education (up to 12th grade), along with performance standards required to move on from grade to grade.

Even with these increased investments in education, the issue of having quality teachers still was not solved. A UNICEF report that assessed the quality and success of the Namibian education system correlated increasing grade repetition rates to low teacher skills and content knowledge. There is also a lack of consistency from school to school adhering to the national performance standards.

Increasing funding can only do so much, and education in Namibia is at its capacity. It has serious economic concerns that limit the available funding for education spending. Currently, 20 percent of GDP is being spent on education which is far higher than the United States at 6.4 percent or even the top ranked education system in the world, Finland, at 7.2 percent.

Education in Namibia and Namibia as a whole is dependent on economic development. Its economy is not well-diversified and is far too reliant on the mining industry. Global fluctuations in its main commodity exports equate to volatility in the labor market. Unemployment currently sits at just under 30 percent.

A report by the Journal of Economic Structures identifies that Namibia is unique compared to other developing countries, though. It has a positive current account balance, which means there are more savings than investment. Currently, a greater percentage of savings are being exported to foreign markets. The Journal states “if interesting investment opportunities are available, the country has to fund through its own domestic savings.”

The Namibian government is aware of this and wants to use this knowledge to achieve a goal of eradicating poverty by 2025 through investment in local communities. The President of Namibia, Hage Geingob, states this will be achieved through investment in social safety nets, training and skills development, and employment through community development activities.

Brian Faust

Photo: Flickr

social safety nets
When it comes to social safety nets, many myths and half-truths about the efficacy of these programs exist among citizens and political leaders. Social safety nets are programs that aid the poor by increasing their incomes, improving school attendance, providing access to basic health care and implementing employment opportunities.

Even though some of these myths are inoffensive, they do have the potential to harm people who rely on governmental assistance programs. The New York Times reports that, “One billion people in developing countries participate in a social safety net. At least one type of unconditional cash assistance is used in 119 countries.”

Here are some of the top myths about social safety nets debunked:

Myth #1: The economy will do better if social programs are cut.

When governments decide to cut their social safety nets, many sectors of the economy begin to suffer. This is due to the fact, that by cutting social programs, governments inadvertently increase the unemployment rates within their countries.

For instance, in 1981, President Ronald Reagan signed the Recovery Act, which cut social programs, such as payments for individuals with disabilities and school-lunch programs. As a result, the largest projected deficit in U.S. history occurred, leading the U.S. economy to its worst recession since the Great Depression.

The American economy struggled to combat the resulting 14% inflation rate as well as the increased interest rates of the Federal Reserve Board.

With fewer citizens being able to afford goods and services, overall manufacturing decreased while layoffs and unpaid taxes increased. It is recorded that in 1982, those unemployed reached a staggering nine million, 17,000 businesses had failed, farmers across the nation began to lose land and the poor, elderly and sick became homeless.

Therefore instead of aiding the economy, social budget cuts on social safety nets result in a decrease in the overall finical health of a country’s economy.

Myth #2: Reducing government assistance benefits will make people get a job.

This myth is usually perpetrated by those who do not understand the demographics within social safety nets.

Over half of all people who are enrolled in government assistance programs are those who cannot physically or mentally work, such as the elderly and people with disabilities.

Even if governments were to reduce benefits for those who can work, it still would not make a significant difference in employment rates.

According to the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, many people who are working and receive housing assistance still live in homeless shelters simply because they still do not make enough currency for affording a place to live.

The Wall Street Journal further states that the four largest welfare recipients are those who labor as fast-food workers, home-care workers, child-care workers and part-time college faculty.

Thus, reducing government assistance will not make people get a job simply because those who receive these benefits are either unable to work or are currently working in a low-paying occupation.

Myth #3: Welfare makes people lazier.

Though the majority of persons benefiting from welfare are employed; surveys show that individuals from around the globe believe that social safety nets waste revenue and make people lazy.

However, in 2014, the World Bank reported that contrary to public opinion, individuals on financial assistance in countries such as Asia, Latin America and Africa rarely wasted money on alcohol and tobacco.

In addition, the director of the Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Abhijit Banerjee, released a scholarly paper that tracked and documented the cash-transfer programs in seven countries. The results from this paper determined that out of the seven countries, Mexico, Nicaragua, Morocco, Honduras, Indonesia and the Philippines, these programs did not discourage people from working.

Moreover, people who receive benefits from social safety nets do not become lazy. Rather, people who did receive these benefits continued to work diligently while also not wasting funds on items such as tobacco and alcohol.

Myth #4: People can benefit from social safety nets for as long as they want.

Most government assistance programs have a limited amount of time that someone can use unemployment benefits.

For instance, the U.S. used to allow people 99 weeks of unemployment assistance. Though in recent years, states have limited the amount of time that citizens can use unemployment benefits to around 26-30 weeks. Currently, the only state that gives citizens 30 weeks of unemployment benefits is Massachusetts.

Myth #5: Certain demographics make social safety nets benefit one group and disadvantage the rest.

A majority of people believe that social safety nets benefit a particular kind of demographic while disadvantaging other groups within a society. Particularly, U.S. citizens feel that groups, comparatively liberals, benefit the most from social assistance programs.

Yet details from a 2012 survey from the Pew Research Center show that in regards to politics, liberals and conservatives used governmental assistance programs almost equally, with 42% of liberals and 40% of conservatives using at least one governmental assistance program.

Despite these myths being detrimental to those who rely on social safety nets, it is worth noting that the U.S. economy is slowly improving. As of August 2016, unemployment rates in the U.S. are as low as 4.9%. Additionally, average hourly wages have increased between 5 cents and $25.59, with average weekly wages at around $880.30.

However, the best way to eradicate these myths about social safety nets is to advocate for legislation that protects these programs. Pay attention to laws that pertain to social safety nets and meet with local representatives about how social safety nets benefit society. Information about U.S. elected officials can be found on the website commoncause.org.

Shannon Warren

Photo: Flickr

Five Myths about Social Safety Nets-Debunked!
When it comes to social safety nets, many myths and half-truths about the efficacy of these programs exist among citizens and political leaders. Social safety nets are programs that aid the poor by increasing their incomes, improve school attendance, provide access to basic health care and implement employment opportunities.

Even though some of these myths are inoffensive, they do have the potential to harm people who rely on governmental assistance programs. The New York Times reports, “One billion people in developing countries participate in a social safety net. At least one type of unconditional cash assistance is used in 119 countries.” Here are some of the top myths about social safety nets debunked:

Myth #1: The economy will do better if social programs are cut.

When governments decide to cut their social safety nets, many sectors within the economy begin to suffer. Governments inadvertently increase the unemployment rates within their countries when social programs are cut.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan signed the Recovery Act, which cut social programs such as payments for individuals with disabilities and school-lunch programs. As a result, the largest projected deficit in U.S. history occurred leading the U.S. economy to its worst recession since the Great Depression. The American economy struggled to combat the resulting 14% inflation rate as well as the increased interest rates of the Federal Reserve Board.

With fewer citizens being able to afford goods and services, overall manufacturing decreased while layoffs and unpaid taxes increased. It is recorded that in 1982, those unemployed reached a staggering nine million, 17,000 businesses had failed, farmers across the nation began to lose land and the poor, elderly and sick became homeless.

Instead of aiding the economy, social budget cuts on social safety nets result in a decrease in the overall finical health of a country’s economy.

Myth #2: Reducing government assistance benefits will make people get a job.

This myth is usually perpetrated by those who do not understand the demographics of social safety nets. More than half of all people who are enrolled in government assistance programs are those who cannot physically or mentally work such as the elderly and people with disabilities. Even if governments were to reduce benefits for those who can work, it still would not make a significant difference in employment rates.

According to the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, many people who are working and receive housing assistance still live in homeless shelters simply because they still do not make enough currency to afford a place to live. The Wall Street Journal further states that the four largest welfare recipients are those who labor as fast-food workers, home-care workers, child-care workers and part-time college faculty.

Reducing government assistance will not make people get a job simply because those who receive these benefits are either unable to work or are currently working in a low-paying occupation.

Myth #3: Welfare makes people lazy.

Though the majority of persons benefiting from welfare are employed, surveys show that individuals from around the globe believe that social safety nets waste revenue and make people lazy. However, in 2014, The World Bank reported that contrary to public opinion, individuals on financial assistance in countries such as Asia, Latin America and Africa rarely wasted money on alcohol and tobacco.

In addition, Abhijit Banerjee, the director of the Poverty Action Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, released a scholarly paper that tracked and documented the cash-transfer programs in seven countries. The results from this paper determined that out of the seven countries, Mexico, Nicaragua, Morocco, Honduras, Indonesia and the Philippines, these programs did not discourage people from working.

Moreover, people who receive benefits from social safety nets do not become lazy. Rather, people who did receive these benefits continued to work diligently while also not wasting funds on items such as tobacco and alcohol.

Myth #4: People can benefit from social safety nets for as long as they want.

Most government assistance programs have a limited amount of time that someone can use unemployment benefits. For instance, the U.S. used to allow people 99 weeks of unemployment assistance.

In recent years, states have limited the amount of time that citizens can use unemployment benefits to around 26-30 weeks. Currently, the only state that gives citizens 30 weeks of unemployment benefits is Massachusetts.

Myth #5: Certain demographics make social safety nets benefit one group and disadvantage the rest.

A majority of people believe that social safety nets benefit a particular kind of demographic while disadvantaging other groups within a society. Particularly, U.S. citizens feel that groups, comparatively liberals, benefited the most from social assistance programs. Yet, details from a 2012 survey from the Pew Research Center show that in regard to politics, liberals and conservatives used governmental assistance programs almost equally. There are 42% of liberals and 40% of conservatives using at least one governmental assistance program.

Despite these myths being detrimental to those who rely on social safety nets, it is worth noting that the U.S. economy is slowing improving. As of August 2016, unemployment rates in the U.S. are as low as 4.9%. Additionally, average hourly wages have increased between five cents and $25.59, with average weekly wages at around $880.30.

However, the best way to eradicate these myths about social safety nets is to advocate for legislation that protects these programs. Pay attention to laws that pertain to social safety nets and meet with local representatives about how social safety nets benefit society. Information about U.S. elected officials can be found on Common Cause.

Shannon Warren

Photo: Flickr

What Are Social Safety Nets?
Now that extreme global poverty has an expiration date, we can begin to think more closely about the methods that are helping us achieve this momentous goal. While some of them may seem obvious, such as providing better education and increased numbers of job opportunities, others are not so obvious. One of these methods is the idea of social safety nets.

Social safety nets are programs that help the poorest and most vulnerable people stay out of extreme poverty. These are the people who teeter on the edge of poverty and could fall back into their old lifestyle quickly if not helped. The programs help cushion them from unexpected crises, such as if a family member gets sick or their crops are destroyed in a natural disaster.

These social safety nets come in many forms and from many places. They can be in the form of cash, food, healthcare, or schooling, and they can come from the state, donors, or the private sector. The programs can also be altered to fit the particular needs of the country, and are not limited to countries with certain income levels. Also, increased technology is helping spread the rate at which people receive help from the programs, as well as allowing the aid to go to the people who need it most, therefore increasing its efficiency.

Social safety nets are one of the most important factors that can help not only eradicate extreme poverty but also make sure it’s gone for good.

Katie Brockman

Source: The Guardian
Photo: NCRW