A government directive to freeze vacant posts in the civil service has not affected the recruitment of teachers, thus the Education, Arts and Culture Ministry has advertised 2 889 teaching positions across the 14 regions of the country.
Education Permanent Secretary Sanet Steenkamp on Thursday said the freezing of posts does not affect the recruitment of teachers because “the posts are planned and budgeted for, and are also critical”.
“The ongoing campaign to recruit teachers was not recently done, but it is an exercise which was planned months ago,” Steenkamp told New Era upon enquiry.
The ministry advertised and publicised the teacher’s vacancy bulletin, comprising 2 889 posts across all 14 regions and at all grade levels. Currently, she said, the situation is very critical, as close to 4 208 teachers are under- and unqualified.
Asked what prompted the ministry to advertise so many vacancies this year, Steenkamp explained that some of the teaching positions stem from an increase in enrolment at a particular school as determined by the teacher: learner ratio, which might call for the additional creation of a post, while others are due to retirement, death, resignation, discharge or other means of termination of employment.
Although the bulletin indicates
2 889 posts are vacant, she said: “It should be noted that, in actual fact, not all teaching posts are necessarily without teachers.”
According to her, some of the teaching positions in the teacher’s bulletin vacancy list are occupied by temporary teachers who are either under-qualified or unqualified and are thus employed on a one-year contract.
These positions, she added, are then availed every year in an attempt to attract qualified teachers.
As part of efforts to improve the quality of education outcomes by improving teacher competence and qualifications and in order to alleviate the situation of close to 4 208 under- and unqualified teachers, the ministry has collaborated with the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation to introduce an In-Service Teacher Education (INSET) Diploma programme for distance learning for those teachers.
This initiative will empower the serving teachers and provide them with relevant skills to teach at pre-primary to Grade 3 level.
In the same vein, she said, the ministry will collaborate with other teacher training providers to ensure that their intake base is broadened to increase the opportunities for teachers to obtain or upgrade their qualifications.
Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who launched the Diploma in Junior Primary Education in February this year, had said the development of the INSET diploma came at the right time, given that the shortage of qualified teachers, especially at the foundation level of the education system, is seen as one of the factors preventing Namibian learners from achieving the expected levels of numeracy and literacy in the early years of their schooling.
There will be an annual intake of 1 000 teachers. The selection criteria entails that candidates should be below 55 years of age and should have been teaching for at least one year at the junior primary phase.
The Diploma in Junior Primary Education for unqualified and under-qualified teachers was launched by Hanse-Himarwa in collaboration with Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi.
The development of the programme and its execution has been outsourced to the University of Namibia.
The first contact session commenced with an official opening across all Unam campuses on May 9 this year.
With the introduction of the INSET Diploma in Junior Primary Education, Steenkamp said, plans are underway to re-negotiate the contract of qualifying teachers (on the INSET programme), and Human Resource circular No. 1 of 2016 has been issued to that effect.
“This will contribute greatly to enhance the quality teaching and learning outcomes in the future. Please take note that the INSET diploma is not targeted towards relief teachers. Furthermore, the ministry also remains committed to increasing the provision of teacher housing in rural areas to retain teachers,” she said.