By Frederick Philander
NANTU last week claimed that it was grossly ignored as a de facto teachers’ union during the initial planning and drafting of the government’s ETSIP programme.
This objection was made publicy known on Thursday during a press briefing by the teachers’ union’s Secretary-General, Basilius Haingura.
“NANTU is concerned about the ownership of ETSIP. We believe the exclusion of the union is a deliberate attempt to push through structural adjustment programme proposals as advocates by the World Bank. We are also very concerned about the top-down approach of the conceptualization and implementation of the programme,” Haingura charged.
He further intimated that teachers had thus far been involved in a very limited way and manner.
“It seems as if only settled staff members at the head office of the Ministry of Education and the World Bank and or the International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials are driving the ETSIP process. We are also concerned that increased learner ratios in Namibian schools will compromise the quality of education in the country,” the Secretary-General complained.
According to Haingura, ETSIP suggests de-linking salaries from teacher qualifications.
“The union believes that in an era where we promote knowledge societies, lifelong learning should be promoted instead of being discouraged by the Ministry of Education. This part of ETSIP, claiming to be pro-poor, should rather propose improved conditions of service for teachers, something that will make them more productive and committed,” he said.
NANTU further supports the re-introduction of early childhood development and pre-primary education.
“These two entities from the core of every education system to lay a strong foundation for school readiness. However, the funding for this sector as proposed by ETSIP is not sufficient. The proposed allowances by the programme to be paid to pre-primary teachers will make the sector unattractive for teachers, all of whom we suggest should be on the government payroll,” he said.
He further expressed his union’s fears of teachers being victimized by the present appraisal system.
“This process should be administered objectively in order for the system to have credibility. The current proposals in ETSIP are not very clear as to who should do the appraisal and how the performance of teachers should be appraised,” he said.
NANTU also objected to the proposed licensing system for teachers by ETSIP.
“We do not support the licensing of teachers, as is currently proposed, being linked to productivity; professionally trained teachers are already certified as being teachers through the standards set by the Namibian Qualifications Authority. Subjecting teachers to licensing again would be tantamount to mistrust in tertiary institutions responsible for the training of teachers,” Haingura claimed.
In conclusion, he urged union members to guard against the haphazard implementation of some of ETSIP’s initiatives.
“Any irregularities in this regard should be reported to the respective NANTU structures as soon as possible,” the Secretary-General concluded.