Suiderlig Teachers On Strike

TEACHERS at Suiderlig High School in Keetmanshoop have gone on strike to express dissatisfaction with a recruitment process they claimed was unilaterally implemented without consulting them or their unions.

Initially about 30 teachers went on strike last Friday, but only nine continued the industrial action as the rest resumed teaching on Monday after Karas education director, Awebahe Hoeseb declared the strike illegal and threatened to deal with the teachers involved.

The striking teachers felt that the recruitment criteria based on training specialisation implemented to redress the misplacement of teachers, will rule out senior secondary teachers with primary level qualifications from consideration for future promotions.

In terms of the recruitment process criteria, a teacher at a senior secondary school with years of experience at that level despite only having a primary and junior secondary levels qualification does not qualify to be appointed as the head of department or principal.

An internal memorandum dated 29 October 2014, of which The Namibian has seen a copy, further stipulates that a teacher of a subject in which he did not specialise also does not qualify for appointment as the HoD for that subject.

Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) regional secretary, Angelika Freyer, who is also a teacher at the school in question and participated in the strike, argued that the recruitment criteria put them at a disaantage in moving up the ladder in the education sector.

This, and the regional education authority’s decision to unilaterally implement the criteria triggered the strike, Freyer added.

She said the affected teachers were forced to take up positions at senior secondary level with primary and junior secondary qualifications, and were forced to teach subjects for which they did not specialise due to a teacher shortage in the country.

“With the years of experience in teaching at secondary school with primary or junior secondary education and teaching subjects in which they did not specialise, the teachers achieved high pass rates, and therefore should not be discriminated against when it comes to promotions,” Freyer remarked.

To add to their predicament, Freyer said the recruitment criteria seems to be only applicable in Karas region.

She vowed that the striking teachers will continue the boycott until Hoeseb explained the internal memorandum stipulating the recruitment criteria based on teacher’s qualification.

Asked about legality of the strike, Freyer said Nantu expressed its disappointment in a grievances letter the union wrote to teachers, union affiliates, school committee and copied to the regional education director.

She added that neither the regional education director or school committee had responded to the grievances letter urging Nantu member “not to teach subjects which they have not majored in, even as a measure of work distribution, because they will not come into consideration for promotion in future”.

“The regional education director’s silence on their grievances, and the hostility towards the affected teachers by the principal left them with no choice but to boycott classes,” said Freyer, adding that Nantu’s management had sanctioned the strike.

According to Freyer, the union recommended that teachers at senior secondary level with primary qualification should be “replaced in correct phases without causing inconvenience to them by way of causing them to move out of town and experience any other inconveniences”.

In the grievances letter, the union also expressed discontent over a decision by Hoeseb to bar Karas teachers from going to mark 2013 Grade 10 and 12 national exam papers and non-payment of subsistence and travel allowances to teachers when attending workshops outside their town of origin.

Affected by the teachers’ strike are pupils doing subjects like office administration (Grade 11 and 12), ICT (Grade 11 and 12), Mathematics Grade 10 and 12), and Khoekhoegowab ( Grade eight to 12).

The school principal, Deon Williams yesterday declined to comment, saying he had compiled a report for the director regarding the strike.

Attempts to get comment from Hoeseb proved futile yesterday as he was attending a meeting in Windhoek.

Source : The Namibian