In an unprecendent move the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso), who are supposed to have learners’ interests at heart, have thrown their support behind teachers who will this week vote on a motion whether to strike or not.
Teachers under the Namibian National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) have declared a dispute with government after negotiations for a salary increase reached a deadlock. Teachers initially demanded a 12 percent increase across the board but for the 2016/17 financial year government offered a 10 percent increase for grades 15 to 13, five percent for grades 12 to five and four percent for grades four to one A.
In an interview with New Era, Nanso deputy president Stanley Kavetu said as much as they are mindful of the negative effects the mooted strike will have on learners, Nanso is also cognizant of the hardships teachers endure in their quest to deliver quality education.
“We as Nanso national executive members met and discussed the teachers’ strike. We found Nantu’s demands very legitimate and we would like to urge government to take their demands very seriously. Considering the inflation rate which is at seven percent, it is really unrealistic to offer teachers a five percent increase,” he said.
In an attempt to avert the strike, Nanso urged the government to take teachers seriously in their demands for an eight percent salary hike.
“If the inflation rate is at seven percent and someone was maybe asking for a 14 or 20 percent increment, then it would have been an unrealistic demand. We read about government’s argument about the drought and water issues, which also affect teachers. But for you to offer two percent below the inflation rate, there is no legitimate argument from the state as to why they want to offer five percent,” Kavetu argued.
He said Nanso wants Nantu to continue and not back off their demands for the increase they want.
“As much as we know that it will affect learners negatively, it will also affect teachers as they do a lot of after-hours work such as offering afternoon classes free of charge. We will see how we can engage Nantu on the effects of the strike which we think is eminent considering the stage of negotiations.
“We shouldn’t destroy what the late Abraham Iyambo [late education minister] has been fighting very hard to build which is the outcome of the National Education Conference. We have been fighting for the implementation of these outcomes, we have been working very hard,” he said.
Further, he said, teachers have implemented some of these outcomes such as holiday schools, especially for grades 10 and 12 aimed to try and ensure learners improve their results.
“We need to find a balance between their demands and what we want to achieve as a country. If we are serious about prosperity, then we should take teachers’ salaries very seriously. We feel government is holding the education system in this country hostage with what they are offering teachers,” Kavetu said.
However, he said, even though they did not engage Nantu yet, Nanso national executive members would soon engage the teachers union regarding the strike.