By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek With the deadline for under-qualified teachers to upgrade their qualifications looming, the Secretary General of the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu), Basilius Haingura, says the union urgently needs to engage the government in dialogue to address the problem. Haingura said 2 165 teachers will be regarded as under-qualified in January 2008 unless they upgrade their qualifications to meet the new standard set by the Ministry of Education. The new proposal says that the minimum qualification for teachers will be Grade 12 plus three years of training, while the maximum qualification will be Grade 12 with five years training. Haingura said they would request government during the negotiations to look at certain factors such as the age of the teachers and to relook at their qualifications. He noted that some of the teachers that are under-qua-lified are approaching the age of 60. “If a teacher is 55 years, why should he go back to study if he is retiring in the next five years?” He proposed that teachers that are beyond 55 years and under-qualified be allowed to continue teaching, as the system will automatically phase them out when they reach 60 years. The secretary general further noted that the government should also look at how the various teachers were appointed. He said before independence, some teachers who had a teacher’s certificate were appointed because they were qualified at the time and thus it would be unfair for government to suddenly claim that they are under-qualified. Haingura said the process of teachers upgrading their qualifications has been going very slowly. Of the 3 200 that were under-qualified, only 5 percent upgraded their qualifications last year. He said there is need for more action from his union as well as government to promote the training programmes in order for the teachers to meet the new demands. Haingura also warned that unless the problem is addressed properly, there would be a serious shortage of teachers in the country, which will put a strain on national education. Meanwhile, Haingura who was elected last year in August as the new secretary general of Nantu said the new secretariat would meet soon to map the way forward for the largest teacher’s union. He said he is currently alone at the office as the previous secretariat has resigned or was voted out. He noted that Nantu has made new recruitments and will start to fully operate next week.
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