The human capital demand that comes with the implementation of the Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Advanced Subsidiary (NSSCAS) in Namibian schools stipulates extended effort for both teachers and learners.
The standard to which NSSCAS prescribes, demands undivided teacher commitment and competence. The question is how do we manage the elevated standard and be able to receive the anticipated results from NSSCAS if the teachers’ working conditions at this level remain unchanged? The current teacher salary grades seem to be silent about the deafening truth posed by the practical implementation of the NSSCAS level.
The current grades for teachers are (1) grade 9 which is an entry-level for teachers with 3-year qualification, (2) grade 8 for teachers with a four-year or equivalent qualification and (3) grade 6 as the promotional level for head of departments and finally (4) grade 5 for principals. Grade 7 does not exist in the teachers’ salary levels at the moment.
I have no objection if it could be utilized as a salary level for NSSCAS teachers whereas there could be extended criteria that include extended teaching hours and high-level commitment of such teachers.
Namibia is believed to be one of the high paying governments for teachers’ salaries in Africa. This sounds promising and lucrative in many people’s eyes. Nonetheless, as much as it appears, learner achievement in basic schools has shown worrisome disparities more especially between lower and higher grades associated with various aspects in teaching and learning.
The most common situation depicted the majority of learners passing or getting promoted from a particular grade whereas a few failed to repeat the grade. Nowadays few learners get promoted whereas the majority are not promoted. This is common practice for public schools today
I want to reflect on teachers’ pay and qualifications as some of the factors influencing student underachievement in our schools. All over the world, countries invest in education relative to their total budget according to their pre-set priorities. Comparing statutory salaries to GDP per capita is thus another way of assessing the relative value of teachers’ salaries; it eliminates the wealth factor as anticipated by a country. This comparison with GDP per capita provides some basis for standardized comparisons among employment sectors.
During the past years in the administration of the Wage and Salary Commission (WASCOM), teachers, HODs and principals were paid according to the amount of work and type of qualifications attached to them. In other words, primary and secondary school teachers had different wage brackets.
Teacher qualification classified teachers from HODs and HODs from principals. The most significant reason for bringing this up is that the trend in student performance particularly in secondary schools has drastically declined as compared to previous practices in teacher remuneration administration.
The positions were distributed fairly through skills. For example, the position of HOD primary/junior secondary could be entered through a three-year tertiary qualification plus six years of experience whereas HOD senior secondary required four-year teaching qualification plus five years of teaching experience.
The appointment requirement for principal primary and junior secondary was a three- year tertiary qualification plus seven years teaching’ experience. On the other hand, the principal for senior secondary would be appointed with a three-year tertiary qualification coupled with six years’ of teaching experience.
This way alignment of skills would be fairly distributed. Currently, the HOD and principal positions are open to anyone with a three-year teaching qualification supported by appropriate experience, which I find detrimental to our expectations in academic performance.
Appropriate appointment of school leadership with effective deployment of teachers highly supports improved student performance and academic achievement
It is prudent to consider the balance between experience and appropriate qualification in the appointment of effective teachers and leaders in schools. Lately, the minimum requirement determines the candidate for promotion in teaching ranks. How has this affected the system?
Now that our curriculum has been revised, our teachers remain in their capacities as before revision. The revision of the curriculum brought about new challenges in the content of NSSCO/NSSCAS.
Teachers are believed to be remunerated at grade 8 as any other teacher with a similar qualification at any level in the school. Honest questions are: (i) is it true that the challenge that is faced by NSSCAS teachers will be the same as that of lower grade teachers? (ii) at which level or phase would teachers prefer to teach receiving the same
The intention to be better rewarded for the revision of our curriculum needs to collaborate with motivating factors for the teachers to whom the challenge is assigned. Logically it would sound workable to ask teachers to increase their effort, but then until classification is made between primary, junior secondary, and NSSCO and NSSCAS teachers.
This will allow such teachers to exert the necessary effort in ensuring performance in the respective subjects. This does not mean that other teachers are less important but rather using a scale to measure priority that will enable progress in the Namibian education system.