Some parents in the northern parts of the country have accused teachers who have been threatening a nationwide strike action, should government fail to bow down and meet their salary increment demands, of being selfish and wrong.
The parents are fearing that the timing of the envisaged industrial action would negatively influence the results of learners set to write their final and school-leaving examinations later this year, thereby jeopardising their futures.
They further claim that the current economic climate does not also justify salary increment demands above what government is prepared to offer.
Last week Monday saw teachers casting their votes at the education inspector’s office in Oshana region where teachers have threatened to go on a month-long strike if government does not respond positively to their 8% salary increment demand.
The teachers represented by the Namibian National Teachers Union (Nantu), who has a salary and wage bargaining unit agreement with the government, have been demanding for a salary hike since August and negotiations recently reached a deadlock with government only offering a 5% salary increment.
The government made a passionate plea to the teachers to accept the offer as there are other pending more debilitating factors that require urgent financial input from government.
Last week Tuesday the teachers started voting whether to go on strike or not with the casting of votes ending on Thursday 15th September.
Some teachers claimed the government has been taking the teaching profession for granted for far too long and would like to give government to get a taste of their own medicine.
‘’They think if we go on strike it will only be for a few days. No, we will go for weeks and even a month or as long as they are delaying the 8% increment we have proposed,’’ said one of the teachers on condition of anonymity.
The teachers said they have purposely chosen this time of year when learners are supposed to be preparing for the last school term annual examination as it is the only way government can take them serious and speed up the deciding process.
Several parents from the Oshana region are not happy with the situation and are hoping that government and the union will find a solution so that the teachers can go back to teach the learners in preparation for year-end exams.
“This whole issue has disrupted the lives of our children at schools. Teachers are already away from their work stations because they are busy running up and down for these voting sessions. The effect on our children’s education is damaging. It will be very difficult to understand who wins and who loses if the teachers go on strike, it’s an argument we as parents do not want to entertain because of its complexity,” said Selma Itewa, one of the group of concerned parents.
Itewa added: “It is however an undeniable fact that teachers deal with very sensitive subjects, the future of our society. This action also does not serve as good example for our children because it demonstrates to them that if their needs are not met they demand with such industrial actions.’’
‘’It goes without saying that learners who would be affected most should the teachers go on a strike are our children from poor families. I think another method should be employed by teachers to put their grievances across. But this problem needs to be resolved because we all know that one is aggrieved their output is affected, meaning that teachers can be attending lessons but because they are unhappy how will they teach our children with enthusiasm?” questioned another parent.