Education & Jobs

Reaching out with education

Namibia has one of the highest rates of literacy in sub-Saharan Africa. Well over 90% of younger children attend school and the vast majority of teenagers are able to read and write.


KindergartenIn this video...Zoodes visits a nursery supported by SOS Children where the children of a very poor area begin their education.

Government resources have been targeted at education and the expansion of schools since independence (in 1990). Around a fifth of state expenditure goes into education, which includes programmes for tackling illiteracy among adults.

Even in rural areas, towns and villages have small primary schools. And in some remote regions, children of nomadic groups are taught by mobile classrooms or satellite schools. A National School Feeding Programme offers school meals to children of poor families.

Teachers from abroad have also been encouraged into the country, with the support of non-governmental organisations and foreign aid agencies.

Years in school

Education is compulsory between the ages of six and 16 (or up to Grade 10). There are seven years of primary schooling. A national Grade 7 examination was introduced in 2000 for Maths, English and Science.

Most classes are held in English, but local languages are used for younger children (up to Grade 4) in some regions.

Education is highly valued and Namibia’s Constitution allows for free primary education. However, families currently have to pay school fees, as well as supply uniforms and books. The costs involved mean it is common for children to end their education early.

There are five years of secondary education, though the number of secondary schools is limited in certain areas. Pupils study for their International General Certificate for Secondary Education (IGCSE/HIGCSE).

A lucky few may go on to study at the University of Namibia, established in Windhoek after independence and with another campus at Oshakati in the north.

Jobs hard to come by

Commercial ranches

Most of the 4,000 or so ranches are owned by former white settlers who raise cattle and sheep, exporting the meat mainly to South Africa.

Around half of jobs are in the agricultural sector, many in small-scale subsistence farming. Some workers are employed on large commercial ranches rearing livestock, mainly in the south. But the wages of these farm workers can be low.

The fishing industry employs around 15,000 people, many of whom work in processing and canning factories along the coast, particularly at Walvis Bay and Lüderitz.

However, jobs in the formal sectors are hard to come by and around a third of Namibian adults are unemployed.