As much as there is an urgent need to vaccinate, especially teachers, vaccination remains voluntary, Namibia National Students’ Organisation (Nanso), acting secretary of information and communication Ester Shakela has said.
As the country proceeds with the rollout to inoculate Namibians against the deadly virus, the education ministry, in partnership with the Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU) and Nanso, has conducted a vaccination campaign to encourage teachers, learners and other workers from the education fraternity to get vaccinated.
Expressing her opinion to Youth Corner regarding the education ministry’s plans to conduct a teachers’ vaccination campaign. She said the stakeholders involved in the campaign encourage people to get vaccinated.
“However, no one is being put in a corner to get vaccinated. The campaign is a critical precursor to the renormalisation of in-person teaching and learning and the much-needed return of the socialisation function of education,” she said.
“The third wave of Covid-19 seems more concerning than last year. As we battle the evolving challenges from the pandemic, vaccination remains the best way to keep students, teachers and children safe,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Teachers’ Union of Namibia (TUN) has condemned the action by the line ministry to conduct a teachers’ vaccination campaign, saying the ministry is trying to collect cheap political points.
In a recent statement, TUN secretary general Kavihuha Mahongora stated that vaccination is a personal prerogative, adding that nobody today seems to have all the answers or the proverbial “silver bullet” with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic and its multi-faceted variants.
He further claimed the ministry is trying to galvanise fake support from the teachers by presenting a picture of being concerned, while, in truth, they care little about their welfare.
“How they are going to run their purported vaccination [campaign] is totally beyond us – if
it is not a pure publicity stunt. Be that as it may,
let us treat this matter with the maturity it
deserves and treat it on the very same footing that the entire vaccination process is run worldwide,” added the TUN leader.
Mahongora, therefore, suggested for all schools to remain closed until July to help curb the virus.
“There is no point of the campaign. Some teachers are already demoralised at the thought of schools opening soon, despite high cases of Covid-19 being reported in the country,” he said, further encouraging teachers to stay away from their places of work if they feel threatened by circumstances there.
Youth Corner also spoke to some learners and students to determine their perceptions towards the vaccination campaign.
A University of Namibia student, Ndatega Simon, said the vaccination drive will help keep universities functioning after over a year of disruption. Moreover, Kadhikwa Aina, a learner at Schmelenvilille Combined School in Bethanie, said she hopes more people are vaccinated so the country can soon ease Covid-19 restrictions and open schools.
Another student from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) anonymously told Youth Corner that she encourages the campaign because it will also enable information sharing, which is important during this time of panic and the spread of fake news. The vaccination campaign was launched on Friday at the ministry of education.