By: Hertha Ekandjo and Justicia Shipena
The education minister Anna Nghipondoka says she will not apologise to teachers after blaming them for the class of 2022 NSSCO and NSSCAS outcomes.
Nghipondoka criticised educators recently when announcing the results of the class of 2022 in which less than 6 000 learners from 38 019 qualified to register for tertiary education.
Her comments evoked a backlash from many including the Namibia National Teachers (Nantu), which, this week, demanded that the minister apologise to teachers for the sake of unity between her office and teachers in the country.
“I spoke about the whole education system. I did not only speak about teachers. I requested everybody to do what they are supposed to do at different levels,” the minister reacted.
On 30 December 2022 while announcing the results, the minister was quoted calling the results “unacceptable”, adding that school principals, department heads and teachers should be organised and properly conduct and monitor the teaching in their schools.
Meanwhile, president Hage Geingob, in a statement yesterday, called for all stakeholders in education to stop shifting blame and find solutions to the pathetic results.
Geingob, who took the ultimate responsibility for the results, said he would like to “reassure Namibians that following receipt of the report from the minister of education, arts and culture, Anna Nghipondoka, the necessary decisions and actions will be taken to advance the interests of teachers, learners and the education sector in general.”
Nantu’s national executive committee member Jackson Kavari, who is also the principal of Ella du Plessis Secondary School in Windhoek, said the minister is the one who should inform the public what the cause for the dismal results is.
“She is not supposed to say that learners have failed because the teachers were not teaching,” Kavari countered.
He said the union, teachers and the ministry should work together as a team and that Nghipondoka needs to respect teachers and not tarnish their dignity.
Nantu’s acting president Daniel Humbu has lashed at those whom he accused of judging teachers, saying “they need God’s forgiveness”.
On social media, the union’s secretary general Loide Shaanika bemoaned the state of some schools which are no more fit to host learners, saying the union will no longer allow teachers to operate in such dilapidated environments.
Meanwhile, the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) expressed concern about the status of the education system and the ongoing public outburst from different quarters concerning the results of high school learners.
The party’s deputy leader Kalimbo Iipumbu said the rift has divided teachers and teacher unions on the one hand and the office of the education minister, on the other.
“We as a nation have failed en masse to deliver on the promise of quality education, either out of our lack of preparedness and understanding of what constitutes the best education format as well as shocks that came from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Iipumbu said.
He stressed that the minister has demonstrated an ill-advised public display of arrogance in refusing to take responsibility for the high failure rate.
“As schools brace to open up this Wednesday (today), we are gravely concerned about the morale of teachers in the face of the ongoing heated exchange of words,” he said.
Iipumbu further said it is concerning that the education minister remains tight-lipped on what the way forward is with the current curriculum as many teachers are struggling to cope with the reformed curriculum.
However, the executive director of education Sanet Steenkamp says the ministry are excited about the 2023 academic year.
Touching on how prepared they are, Steenkamp says that the placements for grades one to eight have been done, the same as for grades 9 to 11 and for the advanced subsidiary levels.
The executive director said no child should be without school and that the lack of stationary should not be the reason why a child cannot attend school.
Steenkamp noted that parents should put in effort when it comes to supporting a school close to them to help it become an excellent school.