14 November 2012

Namibia: Iyambo Urges Teachers to Resume Duties? Concedes They Face Real Hardships

Katima Mulilo — The Minister of Education, Dr Abraham Iyambo, has urged teachers to return to work since an agreement for an 8 percent across-the-board salary increase has been reached between government and the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) and the Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu).

Iyambo made the call in Katima Mulilo during the announcement of findings relating to an investigation of the leak of Grade 12 examination question papers and answer sheets about a month ago. "We are informed that the government negotiating team, Napwu and Nantu have reached and signed an agreement. I therefore join President Hifikepunye Pohamba in his call for teachers who have been absent for a while on an unlawful strike to return to schools and resume their teaching duties," Iyambo said.

"The recent strike by some teachers was unfortunate. It was unlawful as declared by a court of law. That's my concern. The illegal strike was linked to the improvement of conditions of service of civil servants, including teachers. As minister, I fully agree that teachers are negatively impacted by the economic turmoil. The teachers are facing real hardships. I have visited them and have witnessed some of the appalling conditions in which they live," said Iyambo.

Iyambo said what happened required restraint on the part of the teachers since the futures of many children depend heavily on teachers. "Teachers are entrusted with the future of our children. Children are innocent. They should always be our priority. Now that the negotiating parties have reached an agreement, we should ensure that measures are taken to make sure no damage has been done by the illegal strike. Any damage done should be remedied appropriately. I call for calm and call on all citizens, including politicians to treat this issue with a sense of responsibility," Iyambo said.

Teachers were demanding a 40 percent salary increase, including a raft of other benefits. Although reports indicate that the strike has been called off, some teachers vowed to continue until their demands are met amid evidence of division in their ranks and uncertainty on the way forward.

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