TUN threatens boycott over classroom overcrowding

Windhoek-Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha has threatened that come 2018 the teachers' union will not allow nor entertain the current teacher-learner ratio that is more than 1:35, which is the national benchmark.

The prescribed teacher-learner ratio in Namibia is 1:35 for primary school, while for secondary education it is 1:30. But sometimes teachers are forced to teach more than 44 learners per classroom, which Kavihuha feels compromises the quality of education.

Due to lack of proper classrooms and inadequate teaching staff, schools are often faced with overcrowding where they exceed the agreed benchmark of 1:35 for primary schools and 1:30 for secondary schools.

In an interview with New Era on Tuesday, Kavihuha revealed that TUN is currently consulting the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) for learners to boycott being taught if the class is more than 35 learners in primary, and more than 30 pupils in secondary, school.

Kavihuha said TUN is also consulting with teachers to refuse to teach learners if the status quo does not change.

We are consulting on that and this is all in the interest of quality education, not our interest, he said.

Kavihuha called on the government to ensure there is enough classrooms so that schools across the country comply in terms of teacher-learner ratio.

Kavihuha said TUN is demanding that the agreed ratios be enforced at all times.

Equally, he said, TUN is very pleased that government has finally succumbed to their pressure by releasing the delayed annual teaching vacancy bulletin for 2018.

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture on Monday said 2,569 teaching posts would be advertised in the annual teaching vacancy bulletin for 2018.

This came weeks after more than 150 University of Namibia (Unam) Khomasdal campus student teachers demanded that the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture release the bulletin of teaching vacancies, saying the delay would send them onto the streets � swelling the unemployment rate in Namibia.

The striking students led by Kavihuha also threatened to take unspecified action had the bulletin not been released by November17.

Since July they were quiet, but after our ultimatum and actions, they opted to at least brief us systematically. We are happy that they kept their promise that they will release the bulletin end of October. To us, this is what we call good governance. When you know that you are failing in a specific national assignment, which is not your personal assignment, you must be willing to communicate with the stakeholders that are affected. You don't just wait for pressure to respond, that's a wrong approach.

He said this should serve as an example to teachers that they should never just sit and wait for answers, adding that they need to keep government on their toes and remind them of their responsibilities.

Since the bulletin has now been released, Kavihuha urged student teachers who are graduating this year to apply for the vacant positions.

We know the timing is wrong because they are in examinations. But we encourage them to find time to apply. We are ready to assist those with difficulties completing the forms or with their interviews. They can just put up questions on our social media. Our duty is to ensure everyone who is qualified, come 2018, is employed.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia