WINDHOEK - The Omusati education directorate has thrown more than 900 learners a lifeline after it revoked a directive recalling transferred Grade 9 learners from Grade 10. The directorate made a dramatic U-turn yesterday following public outrage.
This effectively means more than 900 Grade 9 learners from about 43 schools will remain in Grade 10. The initial letter, authored by education director Laban Shapange, stated the region was experiencing a serious challenge for space in secondary schools for Grade 10 for the new academic year starting tomorrow. “It is, therefore, against this background that a resolution was passed that all transferred Grade 9 learners to Grade 10 for the 2020 academic year be advised to repeat Grade 9 at their respective schools, due to the reason stated above,” the directive read.
However, Shapange issued another letter revoking the directive of last week.
Shapange said the directorate has realised that a serious challenge of spaces experienced in secondary schools for Grade 10 learners for the 2020 academic year was not yet communicated with education ministry executive director. “As an alternative, a submission with needs involved in lack of spaces and resources at secondary schools is submitted to the executive director for advice. An apology is given to the above addressees and all stakeholders affected by the inconvenience the recalled letter might have caused,” wrote Shapange.
Furthermore, Shapange told New Era that although he is on leave, he instructed and directed the letter to be revoked, while a critical analysis was being undertaken to see how many learners are affected due to a lack of space in the classrooms. He said this should include the furniture per learner, the projection, need for textbooks and other teaching material required, as well as teaching staff. Asked if they perhaps needed to investigate the performance of learners that led them to be transferred, Shapange explained it is not necessarily that these learners had already repeated Grade 9 but could have already repeated any other grade in the junior secondary phase.
This is not a regional directive but a national promotional policy that states a learner should not repeat the phase twice. This means, for example, if a Grade 7 learner was promoted to Grade 8 but did not pass and repeated the grade when they came to Grade 9 and did not pass or meet the requirements, they should be allowed to proceed to the next grade. He said this is what increased the number and the limited space.
Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) secretary-general Mahongora Kavihuhua, who had called on the education ministry to intervene and withdraw the directive, said they welcomed the move and the swift response.
However, he said this should be a learning curve for the ministry of education. “We cannot continue to have people sleeping on duty in the critical sector like education. Planning should be the order of the day.
Social dialogue and keeping people accountable should be the order of the day.
That is what we want to happen throughout the ministry of education, then we can talk about quality education, alleviating poverty and closing inequality gaps,” he stated.