“We want to learn. Please provide us with the resources to enable us to shape our own future.”
This is the message Jan van Wyk, a member of the National Assembly and the chairperson of the United Peoples Movement (UPM) brought back to parliament last Thursday after visiting schools in the Kunene Region as part of a parliamentary delegation.
He told parliament that Ondao Mobile Primary School faces a lot of challenges, such as a lack of suitably qualified teachers as a result of high staff turnover and a lack of properly developed infrastructure due to the small development budget allocation.
He noted that in some cases teacher has no option but to share his one-man tent with three to four learners (male) due to the lack of accommodation for teachers and learners.
Speaking in the National Assembly when tabling the report, van Wyk said: “I could not stop shedding tears at some places. I could not believe that the Namibian child, 26 years after independence still has to be subjected to situations I thought only exist elsewhere in the world.”
Despite the huge challenges there were some positives, such as the support given under the Namibia Germany Special Initiative.
“One should also acknowledge the tremendous sacrifices of teachers and in particular those working at the mobile units. Some of these young teachers, although still unqualified, have come through the ranks of the mobile schools and are now back to plough back,” van Wyk said.
He further said the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture should increase the training quota of unqualified teachers in the Directorate of Education of Kunene Regional Council to ensure that more unqualified teachers from the Ondao Mobile Primary School are absorbed into the recently introduced in-service training programme.
He adds that teenage pregnancy and early childhood marriages contribute to the high female learner dropout rate and poor performance at Ondao Mobile Primary School.
“All of us went through the hands of teachers. Teachers and their profession are special. I am convinced, that to compare other public servants with teachers is not fair.
“My plea, therefore, is for us to seriously consider the salaries of teachers and to provide them with the resources needed to educate the nation. Importing teachers from elsewhere is not an option, in fact we are sitting with unemployed, qualified teachers. Why not consider employing these people?”