Government on Tuesday conceded it made a mistake by abolishing colleges of education across the country and incorporating them with the University of Namibia (Unam).
The Basic Education Teaching Diploma (BETD) was phased out in 2012 and BETD holders were forced to do a Bachelor Education degree. Many prospective teachers did not make the cut due to Unam’s stringent admission requirements.
Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa conceded the mistake on Tuesday when lawmakers debated the budget allocation of the education ministry, and vowed to fight to bring back the education training institutions.
“We made a mistake to do away with teachers’ training colleges…they must be addressed and restored. I stand for the reintroduction of BETD because it has provided us with good teachers,” confessed Hanse-Himarwa.
Unlike in the past where students at training colleges received full scholarships from government, in the new system students pursuing an education qualification now have to scramble for government scholarships with thousands of other students studying in other fields.
“I was shocked when I got the information that teaching students are not getting scholarships anymore,” she said.
She also said she will not tolerate educators who do not take pride in their work.
“I already met with the regional directors and told them that if you do not perform then goodbye. I will not be resting,” Hanse-Himarwa stated.
She said the ministry is currently struggling with under-qualified and unqualified teachers.
“We have many unqualified and under-qualified teachers in the system. We are working with Unam to address the situation,” she said.
The acute shortage of teachers in the country got so bad that in 2013 Cabinet had to approve a submission for the recruitment of SADC teachers for the 2014 and 2015 academic years.
The Teachers’ Bulletin vacancy list for 2014 shows that there are 2 227 vacancies for teachers across all regions and all grades.
All People’s Party (APP) MP Reinold Nauyoma proposed that the education ministry consider making use of the Auditor General’s Office to audit the books of schools to ensure that money allocated to schools under the Universal Primary Education system is accounted for and avoid a situation whereby schools use money intended for education purposes to hire auditors.
Hanse-Himarwa responded: “Said plans are underway to make use of the auditors employed by regional councils to audit schools.”
Swapo backbencher Bernadette Jagger proposed that the ministry effect a ban on mobile phones at schools.
“I would like to appeal to the minister to prepare a Cabinet submission so that there can be a directive to ban the use of mobile phones at schools among learners and teachers. Mobile phones expose learners to pornography and they send text messages to their boyfriends and girlfriends,” proposed the former deputy education director for the Kunene Region.
Hanse-Himarwa said the use of mobile phones could not just be stopped abruptly, adding: “Let us work on ways to control and manage mobile phones at schools. There are schools that do it well.”
The minister further stated that she knows of teachers, who instead of teaching spend their time posting pictures on social networks.