WINDHOEK – Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) secretary general, Mahongora Kavihuha wants government to reintroduce the fourth term in schools, to ensure school-going children do not suffer from adverse cold weather during winter.
His call comes after the directive by government for schools to adjust their winter time to avoid children walking in the dark.
After a thorough assessment of the circumstances, prevailing in schools, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has observed that further guidance should be provided to schools to minimise learners going to schools when it is too dark.
Therefore, the ministry has directed that schools should commence actual teaching not earlier than 07h30 and not later than 08h30 in the morning.
Equally, the ministry directed that schools offering the platoon system should finish teaching not later than 16h30 in the afternoon.
Those opposed to the directive feel that if all parents are dropping their children between 07h30 and before 08h00, then the roads will be heavily congested which will negatively affect them arriving on time for work.
The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture issued a formal circular on March 15, 2015, guiding schools on how to approach the winter time. This is in lieu of the repeal of the Namibian Time Act 3 of 1994, and coming into being of the Namibian Time Act No. 9 of 2017, in terms of the time zone for summer and winter.
Kavihuha said the fourth term system that was practised in the past had its problems but the winter times schooling with its darkness hazards and concomitant cold was averted, by the fact that in the month of June, the darkest and coldest in calendar was school vacation month.
He argued the children would happily hibernate in the warmth of their homes and their parents were saved the agony of cold early morning rise and the lengthy queue on overcrowded roads.
Out of the four-term, he suggests that the first term could close around March 21, in line with Easter weekends, which will even allow parents to spend more time with their children and save on the school days.
The second term holiday, he recommends could start at the end of the second week of June and open at the end of the first week of July, the first two weeks of June could be dedicated to examination, which can start around 08h00 and be done by 13h00 to allow the parents to pick up their children as usual.
He said it should also be noted that June is the month in which most tertiary education examinations are written, and for the teachers who are studying and have to take study leave, saying this will avoid absenteeism.
“Reverting to this fourth term system will be no more shameful than incurring the extra cost that comes with the “compulsory voluntary school fees contribution” that parents are indirectly forced to pay notwithstanding the introduction of the free education system in Namibia. Further still, if we should revert to the fourth term school calendar, this will not be the first thing that we will revert to that the colonial dispensation catered for,” he reacted.
Kavihuha said the current new winter time trends are not in the national interest and were found wanting by some surveys and studies that were undertaken that propagate a return to a fourth term system.
He said by the logic of the minister, it means that parents have to deposit their children at school a whole hour or more ahead of 08:00 — which means these kids will languish on the school premises in the cold inhospitable environment before they enter classrooms an hour or more later.
“This ministerial thought is a recipe for chaos and disaster at the school front and must obviously be rejected in its embryonic stage — and should not by any account be allowed to see the light of day,” he remarked.