The high number of teaching vacancies facing the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture which currently stands at 5 131, remains a serious challenge, while the ministry is unable to attract teachers to remote areas where most essentials such as housing are scare.
Due to a shortage of qualified teachers in the country to cater for the market demand the ministry is forced to recruit unqualified and retired teachers to alleviate the situation.
Education, Arts and Culture Minister, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who yesterday gave a first of its kind ‘State of Education’ address, said the ministry, which gets the largest chunk of the national budget will need more financial resources to be able to advertise teaching positions widely at national and international level, at least biannually.
The wage bill of the ministry, she said, stands at N$8.0 billion out of the total appropriation to the ministry of N$11.3 billion for the 2015/16 financial year.
She said currently the vacancies stand at 6 638 of which 5131 are for teaching positions and 1 507 are non-teaching and unified staff posts.
Statistics on unqualified and under-qualified teachers show that about 60 percent of the 4 500 are teaching in the junior primary phase.
The minister revealed that most of the budget goes to operational expenditure – leaving capital projects underfunded.
“You will say you are getting the largest chunk, so why ask for more resources. But that’s the reality. With the national budget only we will not be able to fast-track all the challenges so we need everybody to come on board. We are underfunded in terms of capital projects as most of our budget is eaten up by the operational budget,” she said.
She said the cumbersome process of acquiring work permits to recruit foreign teachers poses a serious challenge and at times discourages regional offices to embark on such a process and they thus end up appointing unqualified teachers.
According to her, the staff complement of the ministry has however shown a gradual increase over the years with a total of 33 428 during 2012/13 compared to 35 815 staff in 2013/14. Meanwhile, a total number of 35 158 staff were recorded during 2014/15 compared to the current 37 627 personnel.
Out of the 37 627 staff members, 32 271 are permanent and 5 356 are temporary. The teaching force totals 27 325 teachers with 22 869 permanent and 4 456 temporary teachers.
She explained that the ministry is in the process of promoting a workable platform with the involvement of key stakeholders such as the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) for accreditation, the Ministry of Home Affairs aimed at work permits as well as the Ministry of Labour, Industrialisation Relations and Employment Creation, in the recruitment of foreign teachers.
The ministry, she says, remains challenged to fully implement the performance management system at school level for teachers and school management.
Other challenges she mentioned include the limited financial resources to cater for full implementation of the revised senior primary curriculum, high demand for classroom space, hostel accommodation and staff deployment to all schools. Equally, she said, the repetition and dropout rates are high while learner discipline and long distances to and from school remain a challenge.