By Reagan Malumo
The situation at the Zambezi Vocational Training Center compelled hundreds of trainees to pick up placards and take to the streets of Katima Mulilo on Tuesday. The demonstration was preceded by a strike from instructors and other staff at the center last Friday.
Despite assurances last week from Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Education Toivo Mvula, that the ministry was processing the trainees’ meal allowances, both the staff and trainees are not happy with the delay in the appointment of a principal, liaison officer, accountant and caretaker, citing that as the cause for the prevailing poor management.
In a petition handed to Caprivi Regional Governor Leonard Mwilima, trainees have cited shortage of computers and Internet facilities, and a library as well as lack of proper training materials at the center.
Trainees demanded the appointment of a principal and liaison officer and need the Ministry of Education to address the issue of unqualified instructors at the center.
They accused the Ministry of Education of discriminating against the center and playing delaying tactics when it came to providing trainees with loans and meal allowances. They also accused the Lux Development Company of interfering with the management of the center.
They wondered how the center would operate within the spheres of technology, without necessary information and communication equipment.
Receiving the petition, Mwilima took note of the trainees’ grievances and promised to forward them to the relevant authorities, assuring them of his support as the regional governor. Mwilima said he was aware of the trainees’ long struggle to have their voices heard but to no avail and bemoaned the situation as unfortunate and a jeopardy to the center’s education system.
Mwilima stressed that vocational education is pertinent in swiftly assisting the region to achieve Vision 2030 and thus ignoring the plights of the center poses a threat to the region’s development goals.
For the past three weeks, the ZVTC trainees boycotted classes citing lack of meal allowances that has forced them to attend training on empty stomachs for at least nine hours a day. They also complained of the delay in receiving their study loans.
Mwilima tried to convince the trainees to get back to their classes, but their instructors last Friday downed tools.
In a document in the possession of New Era, the staff cited staff development, lack of training resources, forced recruitment and selection of new intake, expropriation of staff houses as well as the secret appointment of a caretaker and superintendent to be among the root causes of their action.
They also questioned the role of Lux Development Company, a stock controller, and the ownership of the tuck-shop at the center. They complained about poor working conditions and working relations between the staff and management, and bemoaned the fact that they were unfamiliar with Namibia Training Authority’s assessment in terms of setting examination papers and marking answer scripts.
The center management has travelled to Windhoek to seek a solution to the problem. The center has since closed pending feedback to both staff and trainees.
Acting principal of the center Gerrie de Villiers could not comment yesterday, saying she was still attending a meeting with authorities in Windhoek.
“I am attending a meeting so that we can find a solution to all those problems. I cannot comment at the moment, please, until when I am back there,” said