Unemployed teachers threaten to shut down Kavango regional offices

Unemployed teachers in the two Kavango regions have threatened to close down the Directorate of Education offices if their issues are not addressed within a period of 14 days.

Chairperson of the Unemployed Teachers Committee for both Kavango East and Kavango West, David Nekaro said this in an interview with Nampa on Saturday.

“We have decided to confront the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture on the issue of the high teacher unemployment in the two Kavango regions, which in our view is caused by poor leadership, hampering the provision of quality education,” he said.

Nekaro said the ministry’s mandate is to provide accessible, equitable and quality education, but to date there are over 2 000 children under the age of 16 that are without spaces in schools in the two regions.

He said 90 per cent of these children are from poor and vulnerable backgrounds, adding that 80 per cent of understaffed schools have teachers teaching 70 to 90 learners in one classroom.

“Seventy to 90 learners is a classroom meant for three teachers to teach. Due to overcrowded classrooms, teachers are forced to teach seven to eight lessons in a single workday,” he complained.

Nekaro said he believes the ministry has violated Article 20 of the Namibian Constitution by failing to respond on its mandate to provide quality education.

“The ministry has further massively contributed to high youth unemployment, corruption, crimes and poverty by sending over 2 000 children into the street,” he charged.

Nekaro called for the abolishment of interviews for advertised vacancies, saying it breeds nepotism, corruption and favouritism.

He said the solution would be mass recruitment as is done in the Namibian Defence Force and Namibian Police Force.

The unemployed teachers are demanding the implementation of a new policy on the teacher-learner ratio, and mass recruitment of teachers with immediate effect.

He said they have a record of 3 410 unemployed teachers for the two Kavango regions.

They are also demanding that interviews be abolished and for the ministry to return to teaching sessions in shifts due to a lack of classrooms like they did during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nekaro said they engaged the regional leadership of both regions in July and August and “never” received feedback as promised.

He said if the ministry fails to respond to their demands in 14 days, they will close down the regional education offices.

Acting Director of Education in the Kavango East Region, Christine Shilima confirmed meeting the unemployed teachers’ committee members, stating that she took the time address their concerns.

“We don’t have a budget in the region. We can’t for example say because a school in Sauyemwa has over 60 learners, we need a teacher. We don’t take decisions as a region,” she said.

The acting director said she however sympathises with the unemployed teachers as many come from families that are vulnerable, who had hoped that they would become breadwinners and start supporting their respective families.

The Executive Director in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture Sanet Steenkamp could not be reached as she was said to be out of the country.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency