By Kuvee Kangueehi Rundu The much-anticipated Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) congress kicked off yesterday morning in Rundu. The union’s 8th national congress, which is scheduled to end tomorrow, was officially opened by the Minister of Education Nangolo Mbumba. The minister, who was representing President Hifikepunye Pohamba, in his keynote address, said education is a dynamic process which requires commitment from all stakeholders. “Lack of commitment by some of our stakeholders may result in poor outcomes or poor performance of learners in our public schools.” At the beginning of the year, the ministry received heavy criticism from various sectors in the community as well as from President Hifikepunye Pohamba, following the release of the grade 10 and 12 results. However, the education minister noted that despite the heavy criticism, his ministry remained focused and promptly addressed the critical situation of insufficient classrooms and shortage of teachers in some regions, as evidenced at the beginning of this academic year. Addressing the over 300 congress delegates, Mbumba said the current education system has been in practice for the past 16 years and is in response to the national development framework, Vision 2030. The ministry has embarked on continuous reviews to localize the system through the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP). Mbumba said that the impressive and ambitious ETSIP strategic plan cannot become a reality if all stakeholders, including Nantu, are not committed to supporting the Ministry of Education in mobilizing various resources necessary for its implementation. “In working towards realizing this noble plan, the ministry needs to have skilled human resources and therefore the government is committed to sending young Namibians to Zimbabwe for training in the fields of mathematics, science, agriculture and English.” He added that the ministry is busy finalizing the National Professional Standards for teachers in Namibia and that the standards would ideally “improve the quality of the training system in our tertiary institutions in terms of the country’s needs”. Mbumba said that his ministry does not act unilaterally and that there is a close link between the ministry and Nantu representatives. “The ministry will at all times consult your union on issues pertaining to education because we count on your contribution towards education as educators and as agents of change in our society.” He called on the teachers to be the soul of Namibia in driving the country forward towards achieving Vision 2030. At the same occasion the current president of Nantu, Ndapewa Nghipandadulwa, applauded President Pohamba for his request and action that all Grade 10 learners be accommodated in schools. “On behalf of the entire membership of Nantu, I would like to salute the President for the visionary leadership that he himself and the team he is leading have demonstrated.” She also cited a shortage of proper classrooms, lack of qualified teachers, lack of adequate, sustainable learning materials and high failure and dropout rates in the system as some of the major factors facing education. “There are various aspects of our education system that need attention as after 16 years of independence the Namibian public do not expect a number of things to take place in education,” Nghipandadulwa said. She said it was unacceptable that many grade 10 and 12 learners fail their examinations and that children of grades 1 and 11 are out of school because there are no places at the beginning of every year. “It is not acceptable to have graduates of Unam and other institutions of higher learning at home due to a lack of employment also.” The Secretary General of the National Union of Namibian Workers, Evilastus Kaaronda, said the current situation at Namcol is not acceptable, as Namcol has now become the dumping ground of the formal education sector. He noted that when Namcol was established it was meant to be a place of transition, but these days it has become a dumping ground and therefore something must be done to address the matter. Nantu holds a congress every third year where it reviews its activities and maps the way forward. The congress will also elect new leaders.