Education ministry freezes financial study aid for staff

The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture will - until further notice - not offer financial assistance to staff members, who previously benefited from financial aid for their studies.

The ministry last week informed staff members that they will henceforth have to make own arrangements to pay for their studies.

Permanent secretary in the education ministry Sanet Steenkamp issued the notification in an internal memo to chief regional officers, deputy permanent secretaries, directors and heads of human resources on Thursday. She said the lack of funds requires that costs be cut and thus certain activities have been suspended for the duration of this financial year.

In an attempt to ensure the education ministry continues to deliver on its core mandate, Steenkamp said they decided that all available funds be allocated to core programmes of the ministry. The cuts affect activities such as study leave, the appointment of staff, training and development, as well as the appointment of staff in an acting capacity.

"Study leave requests from regions and other offices that require the ministry to appoint relief teachers as substitute arrangement for teaching staff members going on study leave with full remuneration will not be entertained," she wrote.

Further, she instructed regional education directors to ensure that internal arrangements are made to substitute staff members going on study leave, with no additional financial implication to government.

Additionally, she said any internal arrangements made should be made so as not to put too much pressure on other teachers, who are already in full time service and volunteering to take up additional responsibilities.

Regarding appointments, she said the filling of vacant posts (entry and promotional) at head office and regional offices should not be advertised without her approval. The request to advertise should be accompanied by a strong motivation of the critical need to fill the post.

Moreover, Steenkamp instructed all regional directors to first address the issue of overstaffing and understaffing within their region before requesting that new teaching posts be created.

Steenkamp further called on all heads of directorates to ensure that no staff member is allowed to act in a post without her prior approval, as no approval will be granted after the fact.

"The request for new teaching posts to be created should be accompanied by a detailed statistical report on staffing norms per school in the respective circuits. No relief teachers should be appointed in a post occupied by a permanent staff member, who is also earning a salary during the same period.

"However, approval could be obtained from the permanent secretary for only special or critical circumstances," the memo reads. The ministry also resolved that all externally organised training, workshops and symposiums that have any financial implication for the ministry are suspended with immediate effect.

The education ministry said it has resolved that no new requests for financial assistance towards attaining academic qualifications would be considered at the present time and that staff members must be informed accordingly.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia