10 November 2017

Namibia: Paheye Parents Maintain Boycott

ALTHOUGH Erongo police managed to end the lockdown at the Paheye Primary School at Omaruru on Tuesday, parents continued to keep their children at home.

Yesterday, only a handful of the 430 pupils attended classes - a week before the year-end exams.

Parents on Monday barred children and teachers from entering the school premises by locking the gates.

This followed the alleged resignation of a teacher, which was to be followed by four more resignations.

Parents blame principal Martha Garises for the resignations, claiming unfair treatment as the cause. Erongo police commander Andreas Nelumbu called the parents' action illegal, and dispersed them on Tuesday so that the school could be opened.

Parents, however, kept their children at home yesterday. It is expected that the boycott will continue today.

The Namibian understands that an official request for a peaceful protest was submitted to the police on Tuesday.

"The children will remain home until we get an answer," one parent said yesterday.

Asked about the upcoming exams, another parent responded: "The teachers always do this at exam time, and they always get attention. So, we will wait and see."

No one in the Erongo education directorate was available for comment yesterday. Garises also did not comment.

The parents have been protesting since Garises was appointed principal at the start of the year.

The troubles at Paheye stem from the fact that most parents had wanted a long-serving teacher to be appointed principal, instead of Garises. Aggrieved parents allege that the Erongo education directorate had installed a candidate of its choice, Garises, while ignoring the community's wishes.

However, education permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp told this newspaper that Garises' appointment had been made according to procedures, which was validated by an investigation afterwards.

Parents have, however, rejected the outcome of the investigation, and the parents' preferred candidate, Wilhelmina Mate, has lodged an arbitration case. Mate has declined to comment until the matter is resolved.

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