Khomas teachers threaten strikeBy: CHRISTOF MALETSKY
THE school calendar has hardly started but schools in the Khomas Region could face a crippling teacher strike after the education authorities decided to unilaterally increase teachers’ work hours to 16h00 in the afternoon.
Principals and acting principals of Government schools in the region received a memorandum from the Khomas Region Educational Directorate which pushes the knock-off time of teachers from 13h00 to 16h00.
Both the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) and the Teachers’ Union of Namibia (TUN) have condemned the decision because of the lack of consultation before it was taken.
Both unions feel that the directive boils down to a change of working conditions which had not been discussed with any of them.
TUN wrote a letter to the Permanent Secretary of Education Vitalis Ankama asking him to intervene with an order urging the Khomas education authorities to rescind on their decision “to alter the employment conditions of the teachers in the region”.
“We hold instructions also to take further unspecified action should the Khomas educational directorate persists in this unlawful and totally illegitimate pursuit,” TUN national co-ordinator Mahongora Kavihuha said.
TUN has already informed their members “to be on alert for future action” should the education authorities refuse to revoke their decision to change teachers’ work conditions.
Nantu chairperson for the Khomas Region, Dankie Katjiuanjo, said they did not have a problem “in principle” with teachers working until 16h00 since some were already doing it through extramural activities but was dismayed by the Khomas education office’s decision to sent out the memo without consulting his organisation.
Nantu is the official bargaining agent for teachers and was recognised as such by the Namibian Government through an agreement they have signed together with the Namibia Public Workers’ Union (Napwu).
The Khomas education authorities were disturbed by the recent drop in the performance of the region at Grade 10 and 12 level and believe that teachers need to spend more time at schools to improve the results.
Some schools have already started implementing the directive, but Katjiuanjo said they were acting illegally because it was not part of the agreement signed with Nantu.
“If the Director (Josia Madala Udjombala) is serious to improve the results, he must consult all the organisations involved in education instead of sending memos to schools without talking to us,” Katjiuanjo said.
He said there were a lot of factors that contributed to the drop in results and keeping teachers until 16h00 was not a solution in isolation.
According to Katjiuanjo schools lacked conducive teaching environment such as lack of textbooks, lack of teachers and principals and poor advisory support.
“Some of the schools in Katutura have classrooms with up to 47 pupils whereas others in the city have 20 to 25 in a classroom. We also know of schools where pupils went without a teacher for one to two months. These are all issues that should be solved at regional level and not by keeping teachers at schools until 16h00,” he said.
He said Nantu would oppose the idea until it is negotiated and their members will continue to work until 13h00.