18 May 2017

Namibia: Mistrust and Accusations At Outapi Private School

TEACHERS at the Power Station Christian Academy, a private boarding school at Outapi, say they have not been paid their full salaries since the beginning of the year.

The school caters for pre-primary up to Grade 12 pupils. The teachers say the reason given by the school's owners is that there is no money to pay them. They also allege that whoever dares to complain about unpaid wages is told to leave the school peacefully, and to get employment elsewhere.

"The pupils pay school fees, which are more than enough to pay the teachers' salaries. Where does the money go?" a teacher asked on condition of anonymity.

The teachers stated that they are paid salaries ranging between N$3 000 and N$12 000 per month, but had only been paid between N$1 000 and N$3 000 per month since the beginning of the year.

"In January, February and March 2017, the teachers were paid between N$1 000 and N$ 3 000, instead of their contractual amounts. The explanation advanced was that parents were not paying school fees and government had not released the subsidy to the school," one teacher said. According to sources, the school receives a state subsidy of about N$400 000 per term.

According to the teacher, school director and principal Johanna Louw, who runs the school with her husband William Peter Louw, last month allegedly called a meeting, and informed teachers that some of them would be retrenched in order to pay salaries and repay a bank loan.

As a result, four teachers resigned from the school, including two of the region's top performing educators. The teacher told The Namibian that the principal had openly told some employees that she could not pay full salaries because she wants to save money and repay a loan from the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) in order to prevent school buildings from being auctioned off.

Louw told The Namibian yesterday that the school was indeed experiencing financial problems, which she attributed to the school's government subsidy not having been received yet.

"The school is having a cash flow problem, just like any other institution at the moment. Even your newspaper reported that the Namibia Institute for Mining and Technology also paid salaries late due to government not paying the institution. So, we are facing a similar problem," she said.

Louw stressed that all staff were informed of the financial problems.

"Maybe those who came to report to you are those who want to tarnish the name of the school," she said, denying that unhappy teachers have been told to resign.

"It was taken out of context. It was not said in that tone," she added, claiming that the situation of the school was also known to regional education authorities, as well as the labour commissioner.

"The labour inspector was here for three days, and we had meetings with all parties," she emphasised, saying the situation would be resolved as soon as the government subsidy arrived.

She also denied mistreating Zimbabwean teachers, or withdrawing money to buy a school in Angola.

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