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Mother-tongue teacher shortage at lower-primary level

Mon, 7 December 2015 17:20
by Andreas Kathindi

Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture’s permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp has raised concern over the shortage of teachers in mother tongue languages in primary schools. 

As a result of the policy requiring learners from pre-primary school to grade 3 to be taught in their mother tongue, there has been a lack of qualified teachers. This has forced the Ministry to fork out N$36 million on a temporary inservice training system.

“The biggest struggle is with the lower-primary phase, where learners are taught in their mother tongue. We mostly rely on under-qualified teachers, or those doing the subject but with no professional teachers’ qualification. This has also led to other regions hiring foreign teachers. As they need approval through Home Affairs, it presents its own challenges as it takes time,” Steenkamp explained.

Another challenge is the fact that not all these teachers are guaranteed a position in the schools. With the Ministry still accepting qualified teachers, there is likely to be a high turnover of staff when the one-year training is done.

“The ministry has invested tremendously on seminars, methodology courses and training. It has been a costly investment. The difficulty will be that the teachers will need to be away for a week for training, which means that there will be no teacher for the leaners for that period. We just hope that the leadership at the school is wise enough to not let them all go at the same time,” the Education permanent secretary stated.

There will be an induction course from mid-January to the end of February on the new curriculum. Meanwhile, with free secondary education set for roll-out in 2016, Steenkamp said the ministry is not expecting a high influx of intakes as the information may not have reached everyone yet.

However, the minister expects a higher intake in primary schools as more people are becoming aware of the fact that it is free. As such, the ministry is providing additional funding to be able to cater for any backlog.