Allow me to forward some of the concerns that were raised on the popular Facebook teachers’ page, “Classical Teachers of Namibia”, which has 10 000 members.
United in common cause, the majority of Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) members on this platform are opining that it is imperative to have the following issues discussed at national level, as we, teachers, remain dissatisfied with the working conditions we find ourselves in.
As Fanon’s famous quote reminds us: “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.”
Ours, as teachers, the foot soldiers in the ministry of education, is a mammoth task of implementing various ministerial policies, Acts, circulars and various programmes.
Hence, being civil in the execution of our duties, the last thing we want is to betray the government.
I am fully cognisant that not everyone will be promoted. This does not, however, mean that we should give up on dreams of becoming who we aspire to be.
Having been taught by teachers and eventually ending up being one, it has all along been my dream and passion to see this profession elevated and attracting as many young people to join the field of education on the basis of its competitiveness and rewarding outcome.
A few years ago, as I was sitting in my small storeroom that was converted into a staffroom, it somewhat struck me that this could be one of the reasons why our profession is relegated and mocked, because there’s little empathy about the worst that we have to brave as teachers.
We are thus strongly of the opinion that when we habitually see so many vacant posts being advertised (covering almost 138 pages) it should raise red flags about the state of teaching and learning, especially in terms of Key Area 2 and 3 of the national standard.
Need we further state that the time is now for the ministry to realise that quality and quantity in terms of better education lie in the hands of the State.
We have so many teachers that have the aspirations and are well-motivated to study, yet the resources to do so are limited. Many have studied and completed their Honours and Masters degrees in order to add values to the content subjects they teach.
We think those that harbour negative stereotype of mocking what we do and go through only make us stronger when they stoop that low.
Here were some of the issues deliberated on by teachers who felt they need to be seriously looked at under a microscopic and also to review some Acts, policies, circulars under which decisions were made.
• Re-grading teachers in Grade 9 to 8 and Grade 8 to 7 to close the gap between HoDs, Grade 6 and teachers in Grade 8, as most teachers in Grade 8 have advanced themselves in terms of experiences and qualifications; some are B.Ed and M.Ed holders at level 8 and 9 on NQA qualification evaluation.
• Give better incentives and hardship allowances, as well as higher subsidies that can enable teachers to qualify for the houses of their choices and approved by the banks to at least a million. We might not get the percentage increase in salaries we’re requesting, but the general improvement of teachers’ conditions is very important. It is a serious matter that needs the intervention of the head of state.
• Some promotional posts, like heads of departments for science and math limit the opportunities for other teachers, who majored in one of the above, including life science, agriculture, and biology teachers to apply. In addition, when other field of studies, such commerce, and social science and life skills subjects going to be given fair consideration when it comes to promotional posts?
• Most of the time teachers voluntarily take learners for sport activities at the weekends without any remuneration. No other government employee does that for free.
• In most cases, claiming S&T in advance is stressful for teachers, when claiming for an advance payment. It is usually not processed, even if participants/teachers have to travel and be accommodated at a workshop venue. Most teachers feel that claiming and advance payment should be done impartially.
• NANTU should come up with some incentives to reward its members, who are studying with bursary schemes to complete their post-graduate studies.
• The University of Namibia should reconsider the programme for qualification they offer in the education department. For instance, they should try to offer upgraded qualifications in one year or two years part-time, like a diploma in math and physical science for Grade 8 to 10 or 11 to 12.
I, therefore, look forward to the input, recommendations and action plans from all stakeholders to help elevate the status of teachers and teaching as a fully-fledged profession, competitive enough and attracting more young people, who are qualified to educate and liberate.
Fillemon Moxa Eliakim is the founder and administrator of Classical Teachers of Namibia.