MP urges private schools to respect the late President and recognise Friday as a holiday

Stefanus Nashama

Inna Hengari, the Popular Democratic Movement’s Member of Parliament, has urged private schools to respect the decision by the government to declare, Friday, 23 February 2024 a school holiday.

Hengari raised the concern following news that some private schools are defying the government’s order to close on Friday.

Some of the schools include Windhoek Gymnasium, Walvis Bay Gymnasium, and Oshana Gymnasium.

“The PDM appreciates the Ministry of Education, Arts, and Culture’s decision to declare Friday, 23 February 2024, a school holiday in honour of the late President Hage Geingob.

“This is part of the mourning arrangements and preparations for his final memorial service and weekend funeral. We also acknowledge the additional day off on Monday, 26th of February, as it was declared a public holiday,” she stated.

Hengari emphasised on Basic Education Act, saying these decisions came with Section 9 (8) of the Basic Education Act 2020 (Act No. 3 of 2020). “Regrettably, we note the disappointing stance taken by some private schools, denying learners the chance to mourn their President, citing deviations from the state school calendar,” said the parliamentarian.

At the same time, she reiterated disregarding these laws not only disrespects the late President’s memory but also inconveniences parents and learners due to the expected congestion on public roads.

Hengari strongly reminds school leaders, both public and private, that the country operates under binding laws applicable to all Namibians, adding that the Namibian Constitution urges people to be vigilant against apartheid, tribalism, and colonialism, ensuring they have no place in a free and independent Namibia.

“While our individual opinions may differ, let us rally behind the decisions of the government during this time of mourning for our state president. In unity, we find strength, and in honouring the departed leader, we demonstrate our collective commitment to a shared vision for a better future.

“Let this moment be a testament to our resilience and solidarity as we come together to bid farewell to a leader who served our nation,” she urged.

However, Gymnasium Private Schools issued a statement yesterday, stating that the schools have retracted their decision to continue with the normal business of the school on Friday.

In the statement, The Executive Head of the Gymnasium Private Schools, Colette Rieckert, said the Executive Director of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture had requested them to declare the day a school holiday.

“Out of respect for her request, Friday will now be a school holiday for our school community too. We will close on Thursday, 22 February at normal school hours, and will commence on Tuesday, 27 February at normal school hours,” Rieckert said.

Rieckert requested learners to make use of the long weekend as valuable time to study and prepare for the upcoming achievement tests.

According to the statement, Rieckert, amongst other reasons the schools recently decided to have school on 23 February due to limited contact sessions between learners and teachers, and their value of the academic time spent every school day.

“We are entering a period of achievement tests, of which the results form part of our learners’ marks for the year. Therefore, we must prioritise our academic studies now.

“We considered the declaration of this school holiday the same as when the Ministry, at the end of a term, suddenly announced that the state schools will close sooner, and as we do not follow such instructions, we considered it our prerogative to continue with the school on Friday,” she stated.

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