This opinion piece aims to analyse the speech by Katrina Hanse-Himarwa the Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, in her endeavour to persuade teachers into abandoning their strike intentions if their demands for an 8 percent salary hikes were never met.
The speech was broadcast on television just before the 20h00 main news bulletin. This demonstrated there was thorough planning before the actual delivery of the speech. Yes, I understand, the speech had to be heard by the whole nation and it was good timing for it to be delivered just before the 20h00 news bulletin for it to reach a wider audience.
This is the time the nation falls silent. The time all children are ushered into their bedrooms to accord parents utter silence for them to listen to the news bulletin bellowing from the television sets. I should salute the organisers for proper planning. That was spot on and it was indeed well-orchestrated.
When she delivered her speech Namibia listened as Hanse-Himarwa passionately requested teachers to demonstrate patriotism and maturity. She saluted and praised all teachers for the good job they have been doing for the education sector and the Namibian child all these years. Acknowledging teachers’ contributions was a good gesture that resonated well with her audience.
Identifying their efforts made her audience recognise her as a good leader. It is good to always give due cognizance to the contribution made by other members of society. Madam Hanse-Himarwa thumbs up for your selfless, considerate gesture.
However, I will just pay attention to the utterances I felt were pregnant with persuasive overtones the minister employed to convince teachers into abandon their intentions of suspending their contribution to the education sector.
She requested teachers to be sober-minded and stressed how she wanted teachers to be mature and to demonstrate their patriotism. The minister had also pleaded with teachers to think about the consequences of their actions on the Namibian child.
The minister employed the Namibian child in her speech to appeal to the emotions of, not only teachers, but to the emotions of the entire Namibian nation. This would win her the public support, and in a way, portray all teachers as callous and selfish in their actions, for they do not care about what their actions entail on the Namibian children.
Teachers in that speech were expected to abandon their rights and address their obligations to the Namibian child. It meant they had to abandon talk of low pay. They did not even have to think about the poor working conditions and deplorable services at public schools. They just have to teach the Namibian child against all hardships that limit proper delivery of such services.
The speech, in my opinion, implied that “rights” outweigh “obligations”. Is it really not self-defeating to suggest that a hungry teacher will be in a sound psychological stance to offer credible lessons to the Namibian child? Does this utterance really meet the reality? Is it universal that teachers abandon their suffering and continue teaching without expressing a grievance?
The words “patriotism”, “maturity” and “sober-minded” were employed to persuade teachers to stay the rough course. The words can only mean that it has been proven beyond doubt that “patriots”, “mature” and “sober-minded” employees do not care about their rights. It means patriotism, maturity and sober-mindedness are more important than one’s rights.
It is not patriotic to claim a salary hike from your employer, and for employees to engage industrial activities is a clear demonstration of lack of maturity on their part.
The speech was meant to communicate that all teachers who respond to the call for skill withdrawal are not mature, lack patriotism and are not sober-minded. It could be extended that all employees who engage industrial actions the world over are not patriotic to the cause of their nations. It is for the nation to decide whether or not such utterances are consistent with the universal truth.
This discourse should request the audience to judge whether what teachers are doing now means that they lack maturity.
Is it really not for the Namibian child that teachers decided to withdraw their skills? Does the nation really want to dispute that there is a positive correlation between employee benefits and performance? I am not yet convinced that a happy employee is not an effective employee. Is it possible to address one’s obligations before ensuring that the rights are well serviced?
The speech, in conclusion, helps stress the kind of utterances that have turned many teachers into “want-aways”. Teachers are subjected to such kind of demeaning utterances from learners in schools. Parents on their irregular visits to schools trample on teachers, because they believe this workforce is not mature, not sober-minded and not patriotic enough to be respected.