By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Namibia’s teachers’ unions last week brought forth a barrage of complaints over the poor teacher working conditions in Namibian schools. As part of the 40th annual World Teachers Day celebrations, representatives from the Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) and the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) spoke on behalf of their members at a gathering at Eldorado Junior Secondary School in Khomasdal. “These celebrations provide a perfect platform for teachers to lobby our government to release the necessary financial and human resources for the realization of quality education for all in our schooling system. In most Namibian schools, teaching and learning conditions are poor. We are teaching overcrowded classes. We are still faced with insufficient teaching and learning resources, a lack of accommodation in rural areas for teachers and a lack of electricity in most schools,” said NANTU’s Paul Sauerwein on behalf of the union’s president, Simeon Kavila. He contended that without the necessary resources most government educational projects would remain pipedreams. “Vision 2030 would be shifted to 2050 if no action is taken now in terms of eliminating such barriers to quality education delivery for all. Furthermore, we need to join hands in the challenges to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS at all levels in our education system,” Sauerwein said. “Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is lost. TUN believes that a good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others,” said the deputy president of TUN, Chanville Mackrill. He went on to warn that the government cannot shy away from the true needs and realities of the day for teachers. “The Namibian teachers’ pension money is being issued to companies that become bankrupt even before they start their operations. Teachers are constantly subjected with the rest of the population to tariff increases of commodities. The present salary scales do not and will not match up with the demands of the cost of living,” Mackrill said. In his view, respect for a teacher is demonstrated by investing in people in terms of capacity building and remuneration, the key to ensure a successful education system. “We have a civil and moral responsibility to educate a nation that will respect teachers as professionals and honour their position in society. Our profession is the nucleus, which gives birth to all other professions,” Mackrill reminded those present. In a message of solidarity with the World Teachers Day celebrations’ organizers, the Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) praised the teaching profession as the bedrock on which all basic human endeavour is founded.. “There is no reason on earth why teachers must be scorned and marginalized, directly or indirectly through payment of low salaries and appalling working conditions. The responsibilities attached to their work are equal only to the highest and should therefore be compensated with equally high and proper salaries and splendid conditions of service,” the Secretary General of the PSUN, Victor Kazonyati, said. He criticized the ministry of Education for having nothing to show despite the fact that it usually receives the biggest portion of the national budget. “Schools all over the country are sinking into the abyss of squalour and all-round degradation. Standards of education have hit rock-bottom with learners who cannot read, write or count beyond one. It is really time that we all, teachers included, take a serious look at the way we are handling our education,” he urged. He contended that there is absolutely no reason why bandits and common criminals must live in immaculate conditions while teachers languish in abject poverty because of poor pay. “We in the PSUN know for sure that the money that is allocated to the education ministry is more than enough, if it is put to the right causes. The reason why we see this general decline in the academic standard and school infrastructure is because money never reaches the intended purposes, ever,” he said.