A New Era investigation yesterday revealed a situation of discord regarding the ‘Day of the African Child’, with some schools heeding the directive of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture that the day should not be celebrated as a public holiday, while others defied the instruction.
June 16 which is annually observed as the Day of the African Child in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been declared as a school holiday – but a directive from the education ministry last week indicated that teachers and learners should go to school and instead have activities to commemorate the day.
On the other hand, the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu), a union representing teachers, maintained teachers should not go to school as it is a holiday. So it was a normal school day for some schools while for others it was a holiday, New Era observed.
Parents with learners at Jan Mohr High School, Elim Primary School and Cosmos High School were told in advance that yesterday was not a school day.
At the schools where learners and teachers were present activities were the order of the day, while for some it appeared to be a normal school day on which learning took place. At other schools learners were seen wandering about or playing to kill time.
New Era also observed that teachers signed the registries at the schools that obeyed the education ministry’s command.
Some schools were deserted with only buildings greeting the New Era team around 10h00. A source at Jan Jonker Afrikaner Secondary School said learners did not show up for school.
“But the teachers were here – it’s just that they left,” said the source, adding that teachers were only gathered in the administration area.
At A.I. Steenkamp Primary School it was a normal school day and the gates were even locked for learners and teachers not to sneak out.
Principal Rudolfine Kamahene said she had informed parents on WhatsApp that June 16 would be a school day although it was a deviation from the normal school calendar.
Kamahene they had activities for the day and she was glad learners were present at school.
Kamahene explained that 90 percent of teachers turned up and those who were absent were attending meetings on behalf of the school or were on sick leave.
It was a very quiet atmosphere when New Era arrived at the Immanuel Shifidi High School just past 11am.
A few learners however used the school holiday to study and complete their school assignments and projects.
The teachers told the learners not to go to school yesterday, and the activities to commemorate the Day of the African Child were held the day before, said learners who spoke to New Era.
Learners and teachers at Otjomuise Primary School did not defy the ministry’s order and had activities such as dramas, poem reading and performances to observe the day.
“The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture made it quite clear that we have school today. That’s the instruction we got,” said a teacher at Otjomuise Primary School. He explained that Nantu also sent a message via social media (WhatsApp) that the day should be a public holiday.
“Nantu is our union but the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is our boss and the directive was clear that we should come to school and we did that,” said the teacher.
Teachers at the school were dressed in school uniforms while learners were dressed in professional attire, such as uniforms for nurses and doctors as part of the activities, explained the teacher.