Govt should appreciate teachers: DTA

20 Sep 2016 17:10pm
OPUWO, 20 SEP (NAMPA) - Government is sitting on a time bomb that is about to explode, DTA of Namibia Vice-President Kazeongere Tjeundo said, referring to the ongoing impasse between public school teachers and the State over salaries.
“Teachers, especially, are working under extremely harsh conditions where they have to share the little salary they get with the children they teach, as these learners have nothing, not even food to eat at home,” he told Nampa on Monday.
Tjeundo said this is the right time for the Namibian government to appreciate teachers.
His comments follow the announcement that 480 teachers in the Kunene Region voted to strike and, by so doing, force Government to increase their salaries by eight per cent and not five per cent as offered. Only 37 teachers voted against a strike, according to results disclosed on Monday by the Namibia National Teacher’s Union (Nantu) that is leading the teachers in their demands for more pay.
Out of 29 118 public school teachers in the country, 20 473 cast their votes, of which 19 473 voted ‘yes’ and 958 ‘no’ to the proposed strike. Forty-two ballots were spoiled.
Asser Xaregeb, a clerk at the Opuwo Magistrate’s Court who sympathises with the teachers, told this agency that prevention is better than cure and what matters is not the strike but the impact thereof.
“I don’t believe that even a reckless government would allow such a strike to take place, only to deal with the negative impact thereof,” he said.
Both Tjeundo and Xaregeb urged the Namibian government to revisit its decision and submit to the demand of the teachers, but in the best interest of the Namibian child.
Lawrence Ignatius Kamati, Nantu’s Kunene regional coordinator, thanked the teachers for their votes.
“I urge you my fellow teachers to be patient until the strike has been officially pronounced through head office and please don’t accept information on face value, but verify it with the office before we take any action,” he urged on Monday.
Kamati said the union will soon arrange a meeting with those teachers employed on contract terms to advise them on how to handle the situation.
“We, however, won’t intimidate anyone who would not be siding with us during the strike,” he said.
Teachers are also upset that Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa earlier this month urged teachers not to vote in favour of the strike.
She said at the time that 73 per cent of the education budget goes towards staff salaries and Namibian teachers are paid better when compared to countries such as South Africa and Botswana.