TUN calls for collective approach to education woes

14 Jan 2016 18:00pm
By Kaipaherue Kandjii
WINDHOEK, 14 JAN (NAMPA) - Defensive motives and lacklustre planning by officials in the education ministry are the biggest factors to shortage of schools and overcrowded schools in Namibia.
Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) President Mahongora Kavihuha argues that a lack of priority from the administrators in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is hindering the provision of free education as a basic human right guaranteed by the Namibian Constitution.
“It all goes down to planning - we do not have abundant space that is just there waiting on you to apply to get placement. Even if we, hypothetically, say all parents have applied in advance, will all learners get space? The answer is a big NO. Some of them will end up being taught in tents,” he stated.
Kavihuha thus urged the line ministry and its stakeholders within Government to coordinate meetings with all independent stakeholders such as the TUN and the Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO) leadership to share information on the development of education.
“Planning is very crucial, and questions should be asked like how many places do we need in 10 years? That is why the government has ended up erecting tents, because the officials in the ministry (of Education) sit on the money, and very little is done.”
He fumed over a “lack of priority and practical will” in terms of planning from the ministry in the provision of schools and access to education for all Namibian children.
“Do we know how many children are two years old and who in the next five years will need placement in schools? I doubt those guys in the ministry have those statistics, they will just refer you to (the Ministry of) Home Affairs (and Immigration),” he said.
The commencement of the academic year in January is usually a challenging moment for many parents as the race for placement ensues and thousands of learners end up without placement and are taught in tents.
Kavihuha said the prospect of hostel facilities being converted into schools across the country, and the mushrooming of tents perceived to be “project schools” are not a lasting solution.
Speaking to Nampa earlier this week, Inspector of Education in the Khomas Region, Milton ya Otto argued that the current budget allocation to the Khomas Regional Education Directorate does not enable the education ministry to build more classrooms. As such, the erection of tents at schools becomes the only option to cater for the increasing demand.
Ya Otto said the ministry erected 45 tents at schools that were used as classrooms last year in the capital, and more are to be established soon as demand for placement escalates.
“We cannot keep pace. Windhoek is under pressure especially when it comes to Grade One and Grade Eight. In Windhoek they are targeting well performing schools, and the ones that are not performing well are not attracting learners,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Kavihuha further called on Education Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa to meet the roleplayers in education and all stakeholders on a more constant basis to deliberate on a collective approach to the problems facing the troubled education sector.
“That should be done at the beginning of the year, in the middle of the year and at the end of the year. But we are planning to meet the minister in due course, so that we can formalise that and find proper solutions,” he said.
Furthermore, the Director of Education in the Khomas Regional Council, Gerard Vries said Government’s priority is to build more schools for both primary and secondary level in all parts of the country, with more emphasis in Windhoek.
Speaking to Nampa on Tuesday, Vries said: “The most pressing issue is classroom accommodation and this is because of financial constraints, and plans are afoot to address the shortage”.