29 November 2012

Namibia: Minister Iyambo Warns of Critical Teacher Shortage

THE minister of education, Abraham Iyambo (photo), says Namibia will face a huge shortage of teachers between now and 2015. He said this when he officially opened the fifth International Policy Dialogue Forum of teachers in Windhoek yesterday.

“In Namibia on average around 10 percent of teachers leave the teaching profession each year. Yet the replacement rate is extremely low with only 973 new teachers graduating at the end of 2011,” he said. Iyambo said a case study showed that the highest rates of attrition were among teachers with higher levels of academic training.

Iyambo said it is anticipated that Namibia will have a shortfall of 3 194 primary school teachers and 1 859 secondary school teachers in the next three years.

The shortfall is particularly acute in the lower primary phase, languages and social sciences.

He admitted that the exodus of teachers was mainly caused by poor working conditions, lack of accommodation, lack of transport and low salaries.

Namibian teachers this month went on an illegal strike demanding better working conditions and a substantial salary increase. They were given an eight percent increase and reluctantly returned to classes.

Iyambo said the shortage of teachers was further aggravated by the introduction of pre-primary education.

“The impact of teacher shortages is felt disproportionally by the poorest and most marginalised in societies,” he further said.

Iyambo said it was also important to note that teachers were facing “mammoth, but surmountable, challenges” such as class sizes and multi-grade teaching. According to him, these compromise quality education.

“Others are the insufficient availability of manuals and textbooks. When learners have to share scarce resources and … materials, the quality of education is impacted negatively.”

Iyambo said it was unfortunate that the survey found that multi-grade classes were more common in the lower grades where the learning outcomes were the most important. “Thus the foundation, which should be strong and solid, is compromised,” he said.

The International Task Force on Teachers for Education for All (EFA) is a global alliance of education partners and is organised in collaboration with Unesco and the Namibian government.

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