By John Ekongo
The dispute between the College of Education lecturers and Government has for now taken a breather following renewed negotiations with the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) in the Office of the Prime Minister.
However, despite the calm, the plight of the trainers has brought along new sympathy from their students who on Wednesday marched to the headquarters of the Ministry of Education.
They handed over a petition to Vitallis Ankama, the Permanent Secretary of Education, in which they appealed to the Government through the ministry to speed up the wage dispute of the lecturers – which they claim has been on the table since 2003.
The students fear that in the likelihood that the lecturers’ issue is not resolved or continues to be delayed, they might suffer due to disruptions.
“This strike has affected the entire student community very negatively in various ways. Teaching time has been wasted. First-years were not attending classes since the lecturers were not there. Second-year students who were doing school based studies (SBS), which ended last Friday, were not visited and could not be assessed,” read the petition.
The students further claimed that final-year trainee teachers were not visited by their support lecturers at the various schools where they are on internship for critical assessment.
According to the trainees, another strike is sure to stand in the way of the students’ graduation.
Ankama reassured the learners that Government “sympathizes” with the learners.
“Feel protected – we will do anything to make sure your education is protected and you graduate in time.”
The PS dismissed the notion that there is a dispute between the lecturers and the Government, equating it to a “mere misunderstanding”.
“The term dispute does not apply here,” said Ankama.
Ankama added that the issue is being addressed through the recognised channels and will be resolved.
“We are addressing the issue through the right channels, and it is a situation in which you find yourself not by choice but circumstance, but we will protect you and ensure that you will get your education,” Ankama reassured.
According to the lecturers, on Monday this week they were informed by the Namibian National Teachers Union (Nantu) to resume work, whilst Nantu speaks to Government.
Some believe that the trainers only went back to work, after the Premier Nahas Angula asserted himself and threatened the disgruntled employees with dismissal last week Friday.
Previously, the trainers had vowed that they would not perform any duties until their problems were resolved.