Maria Hamutenya

Public and private schools have benefited from N$70 million availed by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture for the acquisition of sanitisers ahead of school opening this week, Executive Director, Sanet Steenkamp has revealed.

N$14 million was availed to private schools last December as a once-off grant, with N$56 million dispersed to the ministry’s regional offices this year to assist public schools in implementing COVID-19 measures.

“Almost N$ 70 million was allocated by the Ministry of Education to different schools to help fight the spread of Covid-19,” Steenkamp said. The ministry will, however, no longer avail masks to schools since funds were already availed with only vulnerable schools to benefit.

Schools last year recorded COVID-19 cases among students, a position which saw some being closed as part of containment measures.

Steenkamp added that the ministry issued all schools with various circulars on standard operating procedures and on how the school curriculum will be followed before opening on Tuesday.

“As such another process of issuing a second circular is underway, this circular focusses specifically on the implementation of the resilient plan for formal education,” the Education ministry Executive Director said.

Every school is supposed have a school based academic recovery plan from grade 1-9.

“Schools will have a framework between five to eight weeks to work on an academic recovery plan and to make sure that children have the required knowledge and skills by doing a flexible revision,” Steenkamp said.

She revealed that close to 46 teachers in the Zambezi region were transferred from an overstaffed school to an understaffed school in the region.

“There are teachers in overstaffed schools with the same qualifications that may be required at an understaffed school, this is why it is a rigorous process to transfer some teachers to an understaffed school,” Steenkamp said.

Meanwhile the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu)’s Secretary-General, Loide Shaanika, said the union has since last October been in talks with Education minister, Anna Nghipondoka, on how to prepare for the 2021 academic year.

“We are satisfied with the arrangements of the schools regarding alternate teaching they are going to follow, as it is up to the schools to see what teaching and learning approach best suits the particular school,” said Shaanika.

She further added that teachers where given ample time to prepare for the reopening of schools. Learners were initially scheduled to return to class on 11 January but postponed with up to two weeks due to COVID-19 regulations.

“Schools have received financial support from the Ministry of Education and we believe that so far the schools have purchased all necessary material in terms of protective equipment for both learners and teachers.”

Shaanika further added that the union will be visiting schools on Friday to make sure preparations are underway while they are still receiving all the learners.

“We will have a holistic picture on Friday, if there are still schools that are facing challenges in terms of preparations.”