Namibia: Teachers' Union Sets Conditions for Reopening of Schools

The Namibia National Teachers' Union (Nantu) has voiced its concerns about schools reopening and Grade 11 and Grade 12 pupils returning to classes on 3 June.

During a press conference in Windhoek on Wednesday, Nantu secretary general Loide Shaanika said that, while the union was not against schools reopening, it was its responsibility to ensure the health and safety of Nantu members would not be compromised.

"Health and safety measures and other basic needed necessities are conditions that need to be addressed at schools as to respond to the fight of Covid-19 before schools reopen," she said.

In addition to the Ministry of Health and Social Services' conditions for schools to meet before they reopen, Nantu has given its own demands to be met before pupils return to school.

"There is a clear indication that schools are not yet ready due to the lack of some basic health and safety gear, and moreover the financial resources to address these challenges," said Shaanika. She added that the union had meetings with principals and managements in all regions to discuss the readiness of schools for Grade 11 and Grade 12 pupils to return to classes.

Nantu's recommendations include vacancies being filled and social distancing being maintained.

The union is also demanding that schools are provided with health and safety essentials, as well as the voluntary screening of staff members, that schools have water and ablution facilities available, all pupils should be provided with face masks and that all schools and hostels be properly cleaned and general hygiene is maintained.

Nantu also demands that teachers and learners should be provided with psychosocial support to maximise productivity.

The union added that no teachers should be exploited, suggesting that all teaching should be done within official working hours.

Lastly, Nantu demands that the National Institute for Educational Development should finalise the rationalisation of the curriculum and assessment, to enable teachers to prepare teaching and learning on time, as expected from them.

"These demands should equally apply to all the phasing in of other grades as per the calendar options. Nantu is urging all members and leaders at all levels to ensure compliance of all these measures," said Shaanika.

"Nantu stands firm on its position which was communicated to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture last week, that no school shall open for learners until the above-mentioned demands and concerns are met," she added.

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