By William Mbangula
The Inspector of Education in Okahao has dismissed as unfounded allegations that he has presided over appointments in which procedures were flouted and that bribes paid to him.
Abner Shikongo, who has been in charge of the Okahao education circuit for the last seven years, said the inspector of education has no power to appoint any person to any position. His role is only to advise and facilitate the process of applications and interviews.
According to the allegations contained in a letter seen by New Era, the principals and heads of department at schools such as Omuthitu, Oluteyi, Epato and Kalale in Okahao circuit were allegedly appointed unprocedurally.
It is claimed that procedures were not followed and some candidates who met the requirements and were recommended were ignored. Besides, his accusers claim the inspector conducts himself in an unethical manner. They claim that he has accepted cattle as bribe for the appointment and confirmation of people in their positions.
Most of the favoured appointees are said to be his friends or people from his area. Shikongo is also accused of not spearheading the teaching of accounting in his circuit. Reacting to the allegations, Shikongo explained that a field of study is not decided by the inspector but this is the prerogative of the schools themselves provided they follow the curriculum.
So far, only two schools in Okahao area, namely Onangombe Combined School and Shaanika Nashilongo Secondary School offer accounting as a subject.
The reason why only a few schools offer the subject is because of a shortage of teachers. He added that nobody has denied learners the opportunity to pursue this subject.
As for the appointment of teachers, Shikongo explained that the school boards have the right to select and recommend teachers of their choice. Such recommendations are forwarded to the director through the office of the inspector but all else is done with the full knowledge and consent of the boards without interference from the inspector.
Concerning the promotional posts of principals, Shikongo explained that the applications are sent to the office of the director where they are short-listed before they are forwarded to his office which takes them to the specific schools for interviews under the supervision and control of the boards and in the presence of trade unions. Such applications are taken up by the Director with the office of the Permanent Secretary who makes the appointment on recommendation from the office of the director.
Said Shikongo: “I have developed my own guidelines based on the Public Service Management (PSM) circular no 23 of 2001 which deals with recruitment procedures. Such guidelines are used to help all the panelists to have a uniform way of dealing with the matter in order to ensure fairness and transparency. It would not be easy for me to manipulate the whole system, which has all those checks and balances up to the office of the Permanent Secretary in Windhoek. This is not possible at all.”
Answering specific allegations, Shikongo explained that Epato Primary school needed a relief teacher for business management after the previous teacher was promoted and moved to another school. The relief teacher, a Bachelor of Education degree holder’s appointed was short-lived but he had done a good job. He boosted Business Management during his time at the school but was unknown to him, nor was he a relative. The teach has now moved to another school outside the circuit where he has a permanent position.
At Kalale Primary School, the position of acting principal was given to the head of department who acted for 12 months. The position was later passed on to another teacher at the school who had acted for three months. The position was advertised, interviews were conducted and the successful candidate from outside the school was appointed.
A vacancy at Kalale Primary School came about because the Directorate of Education introduced Grade 10, which could not be managed under the previous principal due to her being under-qualified.
The inspector explained that the position of principal at Omuthitu Primary School was advertised, procedures were followed and the head of department from Shaanika Nashilongo Secondary School was the successful candidate.
Oluteyi Primary school was transferred to Okahao circuit from Ogongo following new arrangements to have all schools located within their respective constituencies and education circuits.
On the issue of cattle, Shikongo said, “Okahao circuit has about 10???_?_’???_?’???_???