12 October 2017

Namibia: Teachers Union Threatens Countrywide Protests

THE Teachers Union of Namibia yesterday threatened countrywide protest marches because the education ministry has failed to release a list of teaching vacancies for 2018.

TUN secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha on Tuesday said at a press conference in Windhoek that it has been almost a month since they raised the issue of the delayed release of the list of teaching vacancies for 2018 and "the state enslaving of teachers".

"We have heard and seen contradictions between the minister of education and her permanent secretary," Kavihuha claimed.

Education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa was quoted in New Era newspaper on 6 October saying that they "need to clear the system and establish the number of teachers in the system before they can advertise" vacancies, while education PS Sanet Steenkamp said that vacancies would only be advertised once schools closed for the year. "This kind of contradiction cannot be taken lightly at all, neither can it be used as a genuine explanation or excuse," said Kavihuha, who accused education PS Steenkamp of purposefully "excluding TUN from ministry of education activities".

Steenkamp told The Namibian yesterday that the ministry was not refusing to publish the vacancy bulletin.

"It is a huge task and we need time to verify," she said.

"The verification process is happening in all the regions, and issues such as understaffing will be determined through this process to make available a proper budget for it," she said.

"We will release the bulletin, when we are good and ready and satisfied with the outcome," Steenkamp said.

TUN had initially given education authorities until the first week of October to release the vacancy bulletin, but this deadline passed last week.

Kavihuha yesterday said that TUN was organising protest marches for Windhoek, Keetmanshoop, Oshakati/ Ongwediva, Rundu and Katima Mulilo, adding that university students had been asked to join the protests.Kavihuha also called on the ministry to scrap bilateral agreements through which teachers from other countries are brought to Namibia to teach at rural schools with the "misplaced argument that qualified Namibian teachers are refusing to go to rural areas".

He said there "are many qualified teachers who are unemployed".

"We deny that there are qualified Namibian teachers who refuse to go to rural schools. They are just sitting at home without work," he said.

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