Teachers in Oshikoto Region remain resolute that they will go ahead with the planned strike, despite a stern warning from Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse Himarwa that teachers would not be paid for the days they are on strike.
Despite this, many teachers seem determined to go ahead with the planned strike, come what may, as could be attested by the fact only that only 15 teachers out of 300 turned up on Tuesday for a meeting in Omuthiya with Oshikoto Governor Henock Kankoshi and the regional education director Lameck Kafidi.
The meeting was intended to inform teachers on the government’s position and to explain why government cannot agree to the eight percent demand at present, as well as to discuss the consequences of the planned strike, its effects on learners and its impact on the economy.
In the same vein teachers were once again implored rethink the proposed strike action.
The voting process commenced in Windhoek on Tuesday and is due to continue in other parts of the country until next Friday. Voting in the Oshikoto Region will take place from September 13
The meeting with the governor was also attended by education circuit inspectors, who were urged by the governor to disseminate the information to their subordinates.
“A well-informed teacher will make a well-informed decision, hence we convened this meeting to urge all teachers to think twice [about striking],” Kankoshi said.
“We know this is a crucial time, especially when wages are involved, but we should take this in a parental perspective. No one wants their child to repeat a grade. Therefore, we should be patriotic in dealing with these issues, because it’s not an easy one,” he further argued.
Kankoshi acknowledged that it is the democratic right of teachers to vote, but they should also take note of the far-reaching implications of their decision.
The handful of teachers in attendance responded by suggesting government should agree to the eight percent increase now and give them a five percent raise in the next financial year. They argued that five percent is below the inflation rate, which reportedly stands at 7.5 percent.
They further asked why politicians increased their allowances and salaries last year without considering the drought situation. In response Kafidi said he was in no position to compel the teachers to strike or not, but reminded them that government does not have infinite resources.
“You should consider yourself lucky that in Namibian history there is no single month where teachers didn’t get paid, unlike in other countries. So, you are at least privileged. Imagine that the Ministry of Defence, as well as Safety and Security, have frozen their recruitment process of thousands of the unemployed, because government does not have the financial capability, but at the same time you were fortunate to have secured at least five percent,” Kafidi stressed.
Kafidi said government has gone out of its way to freeze certain jobs, so that it could partially meet the teachers’ demands.
In places, such as Zimbabwe teachers, soldiers, policemen and other public servants have gone for months without pay.