New Era (Windhoek)

14 September 2012

Namibia: Lecturers Claim Racism At College

Lecturers at Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology's (NIMT) northern campus have accused the institution of racism.

The lecturers' grievances stem from instructions and management reports that single out Oshiwambo-speaking lecturers for using vernacular words when conducting lectures instead of strictly adhering to the English language.

But they ask why were the instructions not also directed to Afrikaans-speaking lecturers who use English infused with Afrikaans words during classes.

The lecturers, who visited New Era offices, asked for anonymity for fear of victimisation by NIMT management.

NIMT Executive Director Eckhart Mueller, when approached for comment, did admit he has personally warned several Oshiwambo-speaking lecturers at Arandis and Keetmanshop campuses against the use of 'Namlish' English when lecturing.

"I warned one Oshiwambo lecturer from Arandis campus and another at Keetmanshop for speaking Oshiwambo English while lecturering," he said.

However, it was the August monthly management report that stoked tempers. The report by Sabina Fusch, a department head at NIMT, informed Mueller against the practice of lecturers using 'Namlish', saying the practice has to cease as trainees need to hear good English (Queen's English) all the time to improve their communication and writing skills.

The report angered the lecturers who said the trainees enrol at NIMT to become artisans and not to learn proper English terms.

Hence they only require the basic English of identifying the tools of trade and not complicated English idioms.

Lecturers also argue that none of the lecturers at the technical college are native English speakers.

"How can Fusch make remarks like that, and just referr to the Oshiwambo speakers? What about the lecturers and training officers who speak Afrikaans and Afrikaans English in their workshops and classrooms?" queried one lecturer.

Lecturers also complained of not being allowed to raise issues in meetings, to which Mueller responded that aggrieved lecturers are always encouraged to submit their complaints in writing.

Mueller also said many of the allegations raised at different campuses are not true. He claimed shock at hearing some of those grievances.

These include that he is aggressive and rude to lecturers while treating Fusch and other German-speaking Namibians differently from other lecturers.

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