Andrew Kathindi

Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) said it is satisfied with President Hage Geingob’s decision to suspend face-to-face teaching for grades 0-9 countrywide.

This comes after the union has been in meetings for the last two days over a possible call for the closure of schools out of concern for the rising number of cases around the country.

“What directed our focus is the health and safety of everyone involved. The over-populated phase is grade 0-3. Schools that are in the rural and urban areas are not the same. Most of the schools in the northern regions are accommodating grades 0-11, so allowing this final phase of learners to return would have compromised social distancing,” NANTU Secretary General, Loide Shaanika told Windhoek Observer.

Grades 8 and 10 learners were expected back at schools on Monday, August 3rd as the final phase of the return to face-to-face teaching program by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, which began on 3 June with grades 11 and 12.

Several schools in this time however have had to temporarily close down due to positive cases among staff and learners being recorded.

This week, in the Khomas Steenkamp Primary School, Suiderhof Primary School, Mount View High School, Dr Frans Aupa Indongo Primary School, Cosmos High School and Green Leaves Primary School closed due to suspected cases.

“We looked at which are the critical grades that can be called back for face-to-face teaching and we looked at grade 10 because they are doing a 2-year course. Grades 11 and 12, we were in support of them retuning so they can continue to finalize their academic year, as they looking towards tertiary education.”

Shaanika said the Union could not bluntly tell teachers to go back home as closing all the schools would not be a solution.

“As a union we could not disadvantage these learners that had already started, as they are psychologically already preparing and are in the middle of mock examinations in preparation for final exams in October. We thought not to interrupt them as they are in a smaller group that is manageable.”

She further added that NANTU’s engagement with the Education Ministry will continue next week to on how to reach the learners that are still at home via distance learning.

“The face-to-face mode of instruction is suspended for Early Childhood Development, preprimary and Grades 1 to 9, across the country from 4 August 2020, for 28 days. Grades 10, 11 and 12 will be permitted to continue with face-to-face instruction. These difficult decisions were arrived at, in consideration of the vulnerability and risks associated with the spread of the virus,” President Geingob said.