By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Education is the most critical investment in a nation’s future, the most precious gift from hardworking teachers to their learners and the most effective strategy for survival in an ever-changing world. This is the view of minister of Education, Nangolo Mbumba, who yesterday delivered the keynote address at the celebration of the fortieth World Teachers Day, in the capital. A few hundred teachers met under the theme, “Quality Teachers for Quality Education”, in the hall of Eldorado Junior Secondary School for the occasion organized by the country’s two teachers’ unions, NANTU and TUN. “Namibia needs to move away from quantity to quality in education. After independence the shortages of school buildings prompted us to initially only concentrate on the physical erection of schools and the employment of enough teachers for the children. It did not matter to us whether these teachers were qualified or not. However, somewhere along the line we realized that the quality of our education system is not up to standard,” said Mbumba with a touch of remorse. In a different tone, Mbumba criticized some teachers for not living up to the high standards of their calling which obligates them to work hard and only do their best. “As a nation, we have espoused many admirable values. We could expect teachers, who have been on the forefront of the struggles for these values, to consistently keep on playing a leading role. The government is keen to provide every potential and means aimed at establishing an appropriate educational atmosphere in harmony with our needs and aspirations to upgrade the educational process in the country,” the minister said. He warned that this should be done in accordance and in compliance with the country’s educational goals and the principles of culture and genuine social traditions, based on the values of cooperation, coherence, solidarity, dignity and the preservation of national unity. “Whomever you are teaching, you as teachers will have to work closely with parents because more and more they take an active interest in their children’s education. Thus, you have to enlist parents’ help and build a two-way, fruitful partnership with them,” the minister urged. He reminded those present that a country is as good as its people, so in essence such a country’s citizens are only as good as their teachers. “The central role teachers play in the process of education is widely recognized. Despite great technical progress in communication technologies as a tool for learning, nothing can replace teachers playing a pivotal role in inculcating societal values in their learners. We are also aware of the demands placed on teachers in a world of mass media, to access information as well as its critical assessment,” he said. Mbumba also paid fitting tribute and homage to all Namibian teachers, dead or alive, as dedicated people. “We recognize these very dedicated people, who give of themselves and take a personal interest in their students. We should therefore feel honoured and privileged to be entrusted in helping to shape today and tomorrow’s students, the future citizens and leaders. I salute you as teachers for your work, passion, dedication, commitment and contributions,” he said. At the same occasion the Secretary General of the Namibia Council of Churches, Reverend Phillip Strydom, expressed his religious body’s profound concern about alleged abuses taking place in Namibian schools. “We cannot sit back idle and watch abuses taking place between teachers and learners and among learners themselves. We have to do something drastic to change the situation for the better before it turns ugly, like in America where five learners last week alone had been killed. Teachers must excel their efforts in laying a solid foundation through education,” Reverend Strydom said.
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