Teachers strike leaves biggest part of Erongo’s school education paralysed

It is official, Namibian teachers are on strike. This came after the High Court dismissed attempts by the government to stop teachers from going on the “legal” strike, the strike commenced yesterday and teachers will be on the strike until the government give in on their demand for an eight percent salary increase.

Negotiations about the salary increment of teachers between the Namibian National Teachers Union (NANTU) and the government started last year in March at which the government agreed to only give teachers a 5% salary increase and teachers felt like it was a clap in the face according to the Chairperson of NANTU in Erongo region Mr Jonathan Tsuseb.
Earlier this year debates about the strike started and the government failed to give the teachers the 8% salary increment which they demanded.
Last week Tsuseb announced during an interview with namib times that the strike is on and there is nothing holding the teachers back. He further said he cannot say when it will end, because teachers will remain on strike up until the government give them their demand of an 8% increment. Teachers in Swakopmund are picketing at Tamariskia Town Hall. The Minister of Education, Mrs. Katrina Hanse Himarwa issued a letter which states that all grade 12 examinations which were scheduled for yesterday, 13 October and today, 14 October for Mathematics and Entrepreneurship be postponed until further notice and grade 10 examinations scheduled for yesterday and today for Integrated Performing Arts Paper 1 and Life Science was also postponed until further notice. The letter further reads that all examinations for the remaining subjects will proceed as scheduled from Monday 17 October. The postponement of the examinations apply for both government and private schools in Namibia. The letter also states that official work of Inspectors of Education, Chief Education and Senior Education Officers, Teachers and non-teaching staff opting to exercise their right not to participate in the strike should continue with their normal duties without disruptions or intimidation.
The news about holiday on Thursday and today came very late and many parents drove their children to school on Thursday morning just to find out that there is no school. Some of the learners who go to school with taxis were stranded in front of the school premises, as they are too young to walk back home and some do not know their way home. Learners now fear for their education and have the fear of repeating their grade should the strike continue till next year.
The start of the teachers strike was also a noted at yesterday’s opening of the Swakopmund International Trade Expo (SWAITEX). “Today is not starting on a good note. I wish what happened today (regarding the strike) did not happen,” said Swakopmund Constituency Councillor Juuso Kambueshe. He added that he hopes the damage done can be mitigated and that it is a “shaky situation.”
Meanwhile in Walvis Bay, news reporter for namib times, Piquet Jacobs, also monitored the strike yesterday. She reports: “Following the court ruling in favour of NANTU, teachers in Walvis Bay also downed the tools to participate in a now legal nationwide strike, after the govenment refused to give them an 8% salary increase.
Teachers from different schools in Walvis Bay came together across from the fire brigade at 08:00 on Thursday morning and continued until 13:00 to wave placards to express their demands. They expressed determination to continue doing so every day indefinitely, until the government complies with their demands. “We have waited far too long, and we have been lenient, but we are not being heard”, a teacher commented.
A public notice was sent out stating the following: Grades 10 and 12 Examinations scheduled for Thursday the 13th and Friday the 14th October 2016 postponed to future date; Learners do not need to go to schools Thursday the 13th and Friday 14th October 2016 till further announcement; Teachers who are not participating in the strike are expected to report at schools at normal school hours tomorrow and Friday; All non-teaching staff is expected to turn up for duty as normal; Schoolboards and Regional Education Forums are tasked to get in touch with Regional Directorates for support at schools; Government will keep the nation informed as the situation develops”.
At the time of going to press there was no indication yet whether there has been an agreement between Government and the Namibia National Teacher Union, as an indefinite strike will be devastated to the country’s school education system, as year end exams are looming.

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