What counts most in managerial positions: qualifications or experience?

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It is quite interesting but shocking and disturbing to hear people talking about ongoing unfair treatment, abuse of power, unprofessional behaviour, etc., at places of work. These unethical acts are being practiced mostly by some supervisors towards their subordinates on a daily basis.

This article attempts to challenge the supervisors (novices and veterans) who are in managerial positions. Some supervisors have been in managerial positions for many years and decades but are still unproductive, underperforming and hopeless. Surprisingly, they don’t even know their job descriptions. The questions are: who appointed these supervisors in managerial positions and what criteria were used to appoint them? Were they appointed on the basis of qualifications or working experience and what counts most? The badly repetitive and ongoing practice of uninformed supervisors is found and seen in every working fraternity including our education system.

My articulation focuses on the intensive observation and analysis that I made as I was curious to know what really the challenges and limitations are that hinder our Namibian Education Management System (NEMS) framework. It was also found that some supervisors such as school principals and heads of departments (HoDs) are incapable, inexperienced and lack commitments, managerial skills and knowledge. As a result, these supervisors are demoralising, discouraging and frustrating committed teachers and learners simply because they receive no support, guidance and motivation from them. According to Hartman (2014), lack of motivation can lead to poor performance, causes employees to stop caring about the quality of their work and employees spend little time or effort at their tasks. In addition, there are some principals who are incompetent to run the school’s affairs; they lack sense of ownership; don’t know how to write official and recommendation letters; are unable to address stakeholders; fail to keep discipline; never conduct class visits; never table the school budget; fail to provide financial reports; hardly disseminate information, etc.

You might ask yourself: were they appointed as school principals because of their qualifications; years of experience and contributions in the education system or for their charismatic and impressive style of talking during the interview process? Was the interview process justifiable and transparent or not? Moreover, what really counts most when supervisors are being appointed in managerial positions regardless of meeting the minimum requirements?

In fact, there are some principals who don’t know as much as their HoDs know; there are some HoDs who are misinformed while their teachers are well-informed and there are some teachers who lack subject knowledge. For this reason, someone will be the victim of someone if not by all. Due to the laziness and lack of skills and knowledge of some principals, they turn to abuse their subordinates (HoDs, teachers and secretaries) by getting them to do their work and they term it “delegating of tasks” while they are idle in their comfort zones (offices) doing nothing at all or driving their cars in and out just to kill time. As a result, the poor subordinates will suffer in silence and their core duties and responsibilities will be neglected. In some cases, these principals are only signing and submitting documents (prepared and typed by their subordinates) to their regional offices without being acquainted with the content of these letters. On the other hand, some school secretaries are doing the “donkey work” for their principals, HoDs and teachers and get small salaries.

Similarly, some HoDs also lack professionalism and act unethically; they are even slothful to moderate exam scripts; conduct class visits; convene departmental meetings; analyse learners’ results and provide necessary feedback etc. Consequently, they tend to delegate their responsibilities to the dedicated and competent teachers while they have unacceptable and endless excuses with their charming talks. Then teachers start to lose hope and trust. Teachers might start also to disrespect them as they get frustrated and when teachers are frustrated, learners will suffer academically.

I personally believe in progress and tangible results. Therefore, I recommend that the Ministry of Education consider the following through an open dialogue for discussions: 1. Introduce a ‘five to ten years’ contract’ for principals; 2. Introduce a ‘demotion policy’ to eliminate hopeless and corrupt supervisors; 3. Introduce a ‘reshuffle system’ for the supervisors to exchange duty stations after a period of time; 4. Khomas Region must also start introducing a written test for the managerial posts before the oral interviews; 5. Keep on motivating and award the selfless, tireless, committed and dedicated supervisors.

In conclusion, I am appealing to all the supervisors in all government, parastatal and private institutions to uphold professionalism and integrity and be ethical towards their subordinates. In addition, let’s all dedicate ourselves to our core duties and responsibilities and stop a tendency of pushing the basket and blaming others for our own failures. In so doing, the Namibian nation will rest assured without any doubt or question over our appointments in managerial positions.

• Jafet S. Uugwanga holds a BEd (Hons) in Education Management, Law and Policy from the University of Pretoria and a Master’s Degree in Science Education from the University of Namibia. He is currently writing a proposal for his Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD).

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