The government suspended national school examinations scheduled for yesterday and today following the High Court’s dismissal on Wednesday of a last-ditch attempt by the government stop teachers from striking.
The order dismissing the interdict application by the government against the strikers was made by Judge Thomas Masuku on Wednesday evening. Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa then issued a statement detailing government actions to deal with the strike.
She announced that all Grade 12 examinations scheduled for yesterday and today for mathematics and entrepreneurship would be suspended until further notice.
Further, she said, all Grade 10 examinations scheduled for the same period (yesterday and today) for integrated performing arts paper 1, and life science, would also be postponed until further notice.
All examinations for the remaining subjects, she said, would proceed as scheduled from Monday.
For the safety of learners, she said, government also took a bold decision to inform parents and guardians of children in public schools to remain at home, citing logistical reasons for the said days, and that they only go to school on Monday.
She noted that the suspension of the abovementioned exams applies to both government and private schools.
In the meantime, she urged school superintendents to ensure the safety and security of all boarders in school hostels.
“Official work for inspectors of education, chief education and senior education officers, teachers and non-teaching staff opting to exercise their right not to participate in the strike, should continue with their normal duties without disruption or intimidation,” she said.
A quick visit by New Era to some schools around Windhoek yesterday showed that many learners never showed up for school, while those who did not know about the government directive were returning from school on their way home.
Many schools also had no teachers in the classrooms, an indication that many have joined the strike. Teachers in Khomas Region gathered near the Swapo offices in Katutura. Teachers marched as early as 07h00 from the Nantu offices to an open area near the Swapo offices where they congregated and sang liberation songs. Some chanted ‘five percent down’.
Learners could also be seen among them, showing solidarity with their teachers. The learners shouted, ‘Please government, pay our teachers, we do not want to fail.’
Although the police escorted the striking teachers from the Nantu offices to the open area, a police presence was not visible around the crowd.
Nantu Khomas regional chairperson Kevin Kahungi said teachers are professional and well-disciplined cadres, hence there would be no violence.
“Even the way traffic is moving in and out is orderly. The way they parked their cars is professional and they are allowing other businesses to continue as usual,” he noted.
He applauded fellow teachers for the good turnout. “The turnout is very good in Khomas, even Mr Job Muniaro (NUNW secretary general) is here supporting us. Government tried everything to stop the strike but it’s not the end. Our aim is to find a solution, that’s why we embarked on an industrial strike. But it’s not the end, we want Nantu and government to reach an agreement as soon as possible. Hopefully government will react swiftly to a solution,” Kahungi said.
He said although teachers sympathize with learners and parents, in the end it’s not their call as the ball is in their employer’s court.
Teachers plan to strike everyday from 07h00 to 15h00.
The only concern teachers raised was the searing heat, saying they were still waiting for government officials to provide them with water as agreed upon in the strike rules.
They called on sympathizers to provide them with shades to shield themselves from the sun, and drinking water.
“But those are just minor challenges. We will overcome them. We are going to stay here for our eight percent course,” Kahungi said on behalf of fellow teachers.