11 January 2013

Namibia: TUN Wants Free Tertiary Education

THE Teachers' Union of Namibia (TUN) says the government must aim to provide free tertiary education.

Its president, Mahongora Kavihuha, yesterday said they want to "thank government for starting to honour its constitutional obligation by offering free primary education". But, he said, the government's efforts should not stop with primary education.

The Ministry of Education recently announced that preprimary and primary education will be offered free of charge from this year.

Kavihuha said he further hopes that government "will be less bureaucratic in delivering materials and other services to schools".

The union leader said it appears that some recommendations of the national education conference held in 2011 are being implemented.

"For the sake of transparent monitoring and evaluation, we are again requesting the minister of education to make the detailed Cabinet-approved recommendations public. We need to hold them accountable. We really don't understand why the minister prefers to keep these important national recommendations private or to himself."

Kavihuha also lashed out at the recently announced 31% salary hike for political office bearers, saying the union "condemns in the strongest terms the self-enrichment". This, he said, contributes to the increasing gap between rich and poor.

"While everybody is concerned about the ever-widening gap between poor and rich, the Namibian government is contributing to its growth unashamedly. TUN hopes that all workers have learned from all these events and address the situation before it is too late."

TUN also called on the government to provide quality teachers. "We urge the government to refrain from subjecting Namibian children to a demoralised, under-compensated and under-trained teachers, because it may rob them of the constitutionally guaranteed right to a quality education. Our understanding is that conducive work conditions are a critical ingredient to improve learner outcomes the country desperately needs."

The union also urged parents to support teachers in their quest for better working conditions.

Kavihuha said the Ministry of Education should send school managers on short refresher courses. "TUN believes that well-trained and adequately skilled school governing bodies and school management teams are critical to the improvement of schools."

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