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Education inspector, principals cross swords

2020-06-15  Loide Jason

Education inspector, principals cross swords

Some educationalists in Okahao circuit in Omusati region are concerned that the conflict between 20 principals and the education inspector could have adverse effects on the academic environment, including affecting the morale of educators, the pace at which they work and teacher absenteeism.

The conflict, they said, has resulted in some schools not collecting sanitary materials meant for learners to use in the fight against Covid-19.
Most of the materials provided to contain Covid-19 such as hand sanitisers and face masks are still piled up at the circuit office because the principals did not collect them because they are at loggerheads with the inspector. “Schools that have Grade 11 and 12 that already resumed classes are affected because of educationalists not talking to each other because of decisions made by the leadership in the region. This matter is serious and if the ministry does not intervene the children will suffer,” said a source privy to the silent conflict raging in the education sector in Omusati.

He further explained that the inspector is now forced to visit schools but without being briefed by the principals or teachers.
Senior education officers who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of possible reprisals said although there are 32 schools in the circuit, 20 principals have chosen not to work with the inspector because they are unhappy with the procedures used for him to be transferred.
The man at the centre of the dispute Eliakim Kamati had been working as an inspector for Ogongo circuit in the same region but he later applied for a horizontal transfer from that circuit to Okahao on 30 October 2018 and provided reasons for the request.
His request was discussed by the regional management team and was recommended by Laban Shapange, the regional education director who ignored the telephone calls made to his office for clarification on the matter.

According to an impeccable source from Okahao circuit management committee who spoke on condition of anonymity most of the principals and Nantu leadership are not against the inspector, however, they are against the procedures used to effect the transfer.
When contacted for comment Kamati said he had merely applied for a horizontal transfer as done by other persons and was informed his transfer was approved by the ministry of education.

“I can acknowledge that I have registered the matter with the ministry of labour. I can also acknowledge that the matter is partly distorted, however, the truth is that there are principals not attending to the circuit programmes and meetings. If I invite people to come to the meetings and they choose not to come what can I do?  Should I force them to do so? I cannot do it. Some of the principals I even assigned to do presentations on certain topics but they do not show up,” he explained.
He described the matter as having its origins in regionalism and the fear of the unknown.

Kamati is well known as one of the best inspectors of education who put the region on the map by bringing Ogongo circuit from bottom performance in the region to second position for two years during which he served in that circuit.
Kamati further explained that materials were collected from the circuit and delivered to three schools that reopened in the region.
“Among those 20 principals that refused to work with me, eight have deserted the circuit’s WhatsApp group page which facilitates easy communication to schools,” he said. 

When New Era contacted the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) for comment, the secretary general Loide Shaanika said that they felt the matter should be resolved internally before a complaint is registered.
“But now that the matter is in court, I can only comment that we are fully aware of the issue although we felt that it was supposed to be resolved internally. I cannot comment further on a matter that is in court because we are one of the respondents,” she added.
According to a letter by the Executive Director in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture Sanet Steenkamp, there are many cases of inspectors of education in the region who were transferred from one circuit to another and from other regions to Omusati without the consent of the circuit management and there were no objections.
She stated in the letter that the ministry cannot withdraw the transfer of Kamati as such a move will constitute maladministration.

2020-06-15  Loide Jason

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