15 November 2012

Namibia: Teachers No Longer United

Windhoek — Some teachers remain defiant in the face of the recent court interdicts and have vowed to stay the course until their demand for a 40 percent increment is met in full.

New Era yesterday visited the Khomasdal Sports Field at around 12h30 to see if teachers are still 'striking' and found that there were less than a hundred teachers gathered at the place, which only last week was the venue for a massive assembly of defiant and disgruntled teachers, plus some nurses and other public service employees. "We will stay here until someone comes and answers us," said one of the last teachers remaining.

"We will stay here until we get our 40 percent increment," said another striking teacher when asked how long they intend to stay away from work. One teacher responded that government has the answer to the question on how long they would stay away from school.

"We are tired of some individuals taking all the benefits," remarked another striking teacher.

Meanwhile, it was business as usual at some schools as teachers and learners pitched for school. At the Eldorado Secondary School a total of 512 learners showed up for school yesterday compared to 300 learners on Monday. "All teachers reported for work," said a reliable source at the school.

Lessons were also in full swing at the Ella Du Plessis High School and according to the principal, Jakavaza Katjiuanjo-Kavari, the only teachers who were absent from school yesterday were those who are marking the grades 10 and 12 question papers, as well as those who are on study leave.

Apart from the strike, this time of the year is usually a difficult one in terms of the shortage of teachers, since many usually volunteer to mark the grades 10 and 12 question papers in order to supplement their incomes.

Katjiuanjo-Kavari said the strike did not have a severe impact on operations at the school, because the deadline for setting examination questions was September 15. "The grades 8 and 9 were put in a hall and supervised by one individual. While the Grade 11's were put in classrooms.

"Not a lot of people were needed to supervise. We handled the situation well in the absence of teachers," he said. Meanwhile, the opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) yesterday brushed aside remarks made by the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Jerry Ekandjo, saying the recent teachers' strike was instigated by the opposition.

"The Rally for Democracy and Progress has learnt with regret the unfortunate remarks allegedly made by Jerry Ekandjo, at Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region, that the striking teachers were instigated by the opposition parties and in particular RDP," said Jeremiah Nambinga the RDP secretary for information.

"Jerry Ekandjo must be reminded that teachers are professionals and not political appointees. They qualify as teachers because they are intelligent and capable of determining what is good for them and the nation. For Jerry Ekandjo to imply that the striking teachers are manipulated by opposition political parties for political expediency is not only an attempt to undermine their intelligence, but it is a serious insult of the worst order."

He said it is on record that most Namibian teachers played a significant role in the liberation struggle and were unfortunately perceived by the colonisers then to be manipulated by the liberation movement - Swapo - and asked are the minister's remarks "a pure coincidence or is it a sign that once in power, one can easily become politically blind?"

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