Private schools yesterday rejected the ministry of education’s new staggered reopening approach following pressure from the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu).
The ministry made a sudden U-turn yesterday morning, saying schools will now open in three phases for face-to-face learning, annulling a 28 August announcement by President Hage Geingob that had committed to reopening schools countrywide by next week Monday. Windhoek Gymnasium Private School’s managing director Colette Rieckert was yesterday furious with the education ministry’s dithering on the issue of schools reopening.
“We as the association of private schools refuse to accept this further delay,” she said.
“The initial announcement on 28 August by President Geingob was done after so many consultations and after such a professional survey that was done. And now after unions said their members are not willing to work and so on, we have to suffer and our kids too have to suffer as a result of that. This union is not representative of any of our members in the association of private schools. We will go ahead with our planning to resume face-to-face contact classes in the private schools at least.
I feel sorry for government schools if they have to accept this. I think schools that are ready to start should do so, so that we don’t see a further detrimental effect in the psychological state of our youth and children who have a right to good education in Namibia.”
Last Friday, Geingob announced that grade 10, 11 and 12 learners must return for face-to-face classes on 1 September, while all other grades were scheduled to return to school on 7 September.
A media statement issued by the ministry yesterday said grade 7, 8 and 9 learners will return to school on 7 September in all regions, with the exception of Khomas.
On 14 September all grade 4, 5 and 6 learners will return to school, including in the Khomas region. Classes for grade 7, 8, and 9 learners in Khomas will commence on the same day.
Face-to-face classes for pre-primary to grade 3 learners will resume on 21 September, according to the statement.
The ministry said in light of the announcement made by the President on Friday on Proclamation No. 48 on stage three of the Covid-19 state of emergency regulations, the ministry further consulted Nantu on the fears around the rising number of Covid-19 cases.
“The fear of many people around Covid-19 and the impact of schools opening on the transmission of the disease is of concern. These deliberations agreed upon the phasing-in of the resumption of face-to-face teaching and learning, in order to facilitate additional advocacy for education,” said the statement.
The ministry added that the parties jointly take cognisance that the delay of opening of schools will have consequences for many stakeholders and said calendar adjustments will be communicated in due course.
– Additional reporting by Nampa