…as teachers unions meet

Andrew Kathindi

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has maintained its announcement on the final stage of the resumption of face to face teaching on Friday will not be swayed by teachers unions.

This comes as the ministry and unions have found themselves on opposing ends on various occasions when it comes to class resumptions, with the Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) and other unions held up in consultations Thursday, amid indications that they want to call for the suspension of all face-to-face teaching.

The final phase of face-to-face teaching includes the grade 8 to 10 learners. They are expected back in schools on Monday 3 August, however, Education Minister, Anna Nghipondoka confirmed that she will make the final decision on the matter tomorrow (Friday, July 31).

“The closure of schools does not come from the unions. We plan and the final decision is determined by the factors on the ground as advised by the Minister of Health,” said the Minister.

Nghipondoka added, “So, whatever we announce tomorrow, it’s not because of what the unions are saying; it’s because of what we ourselves are saying as a Ministry, of course in consultation with all the stakeholders. Whatever meeting with unions will not determine what we’re going to announce tomorrow, so let’s wait because we’re still consulting not necessarily only with the union but within the government.”

This comes as Namibia on Thursday recorded 66 new COVID-19 positive cases, 14 of which were reported in Windhoek. This surge in reported cases comes as health minister Kalumbi Shangula warned that community transmission of the virus without known contacts was also beginning to pick up across the country.

Several schools were, this week, closed due to suspected cases, including Steenkamp Primary School, Suiderhof Primary School, Mount View High School, Dr Frans Aupa Indongo Primary School, Cosmos High School and Green Leaves Primary School.

Grades 8 and 10 learners were the final phase of the return of face-to-face teaching which began on 3 June with grades 11 and 12, however the project has been marred with hiccups with several positive cases among school staff and learners being reported across the country, leading to the temporary closure of schools.

Earlier this month, NANTU, defied the Ministry’s directive to reopen Erongo schools, the region that has become the epicenter of the virus, by mobilizing teachers in its membership, not to report for school.

“There are many changes happening rapidly, and one cannot just make announcements without consulting thoroughly,” The education minister said.