Teachers in Gobabis hostels face eviction

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Windhoek

Fifteen teachers residing in hostels at three high schools in Omaheke Region face eviction after receiving letters from the regional director to vacate the school hostel by end of March.

The schools are Epako, Wennie du Plessis and Gustav Kandjii secondary schools.

Teachers, who requested anonymity, claimed they appealed against the eviction, indicating that they are prepared to pay a small percentage of their salaries towards rental to help cut the cost of water and electricity, but assume the human resources department never forwarded the information to the finance department.

“We’re still prepared to pay by hand at the Receiver of Revenue while our deductions are being processed,” the teachers said.

In one of the letters, dated December 4, 2015, Omaheke director Pecka Semba stated that they had already issued a directive in 2014 that non-essential boarders residing in government hostel should vacate the hostels.  Semba said some schools honoured the directive, but some ignored it.

In the same letter Semba also indicated that a circular issued by the ministry’s permanent secretary on October 6, 2015 requested all offices, ministries and agencies (OMAs) to implement cost-saving measures.

He said water and electricity are the main cost drivers in schools and hostels and the directorate decided to cut these costs.

In another letter issued in February this year Semba indicated that the education ministry is not obliged to provide housing for teachers, especially not in urban areas like Gobabis.

“Housing and the provision of houses to teachers have never been a condition of service. Effective teaching and learning can thus not be compromised because of the eviction of non-essential boarders from the hostel.”

Teachers from Epako High School further stated after writing an appeal letter to the school, which was forwarded to the director, they did not get a response prompting them to write to the Namibian National Teachers Union (NANTU) regional chairperson in Omaheke to mediate on their behalf.

“Nantu officials spoke to the director, but the director came up with claims that teachers in the hostels are unruly and come drunk and leave the hostel’s gate open,” remarked one teacher.

Teachers said transfers from other regions to Gobabis and accommodation present a problem, as they can’t afford to buy houses with their salaries.

Samba told New Era that he prefers to exercise his right to remain silent and would not comment on the issue. “Let the newspapers write what the teachers told them,” he said.

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