Some parents have asked both teachers and government to reach a compromise to avoid the nationwide strike, which is set to start in three days’ time.
One such parent Djeimo Popyeinawa said both parties need to find middle ground so as to prevent the unnecessary disruption of examinations at public schools. “The children are the future of this country. If we’re playing with their education, we’re actually playing with the future of our country,” he said.
Popyeinawa, who is also a traditional leader, said negotiations should be conducted in good faith, thus if government is factually unable to offer the eight percent demanded by teachers, it should make another offer over above the five percent it has offered so far.
“If the teachers refuse what government would offer them, then negotiations are not being conducted in good faith,” Popyeinawa said.
“Of course, we understand that government is saying it does not have the money, but we also see the [extravagant] activities that are taking place. Such activities do not reflect a situation where money has dried up. Both parties should compromise,” said Popyeinawa.
Another parent, Nelao Erastus, said teachers should accept the five percent offered by government. According to Erastus, the teachers’ behaviour shows that they do not care about the Namibian child or the children’s future.
“If your calling is teaching, money will not make you abandon a child’s education. They think they are punishing government, but they are actually punishing the children and their parents,” Erastus opined.
A parent who asked for anonymity said the teachers should reason as parents and not as teachers, because most of the teachers are also parents. “Why do you have to teach a child throughout the year and only strike during the final exams? Do they have hearts?” she asked.
A retired educator, who also preferred anonymity, shared the same sentiments as the other parents. According to her, the looming strike will have a serious negative impact on the learners’ performance, especially those who are expected to start their exams this month. She said the learners’ concentration and focus are affected, as they are not sure whether they should study or not.
“Right now our children are panicking. They’re not studying. Our children are our future and here we are sending them straight to the streets. Teachers are also parents. They should think like parents and compromise. If there is no money, there is just no money. As a parent I don’t understand why teachers are striking during exams,” she said.
Local businessman Josua Haimbodi said both groups must weigh up the costs and benefits of the conflict before they engage in head-on confrontation. He said if children are denied an opportunity to write their exams because of the strike, the consequences for them would be far worse than not receiving the eight percent salary increase demanded by the teachers.
According to him, it is high time for both the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) and the government to once more convene around the table and work out an amicable solution.
“We feel for the teachers, but they must have mercy on our children’s future. If government is saying there is no money, they should just accept the five percent and wait for the country to recover from the recession we are going through. Once government has recovered then they can demand [more],” Haimbodi advised.