WALVIS BAY – The Covid-19 has not only highlighted the importance of teachers during the pandemic but also showed the persistent weaknesses in many education systems with devastating consequences for the most marginalised.
This is according to Unesco representative to Namibia, Djaffar Moussa-Elkadhum who says that never have teachers been more wanted and needed than now across the world.
He made the observation during the commemoration of World Teachers’ Day that was celebrated across the world yesterday.
Namibia’s celebrations took place at the Jan Wilken Stadium at Walvis Bay where teachers came together to celebrate as well as honour those who lost their lives due to Covid-19.
“The celebration today is of greater significance, considering the challenges that teachers have faced and continue to face during the Covid-19 crisis. Today, we celebrate the exceptional dedication and courage of all teachers, their capacity to adapt and to innovate under very challenging and uncertain conditions,” he said. According to him, the pandemic affected over 63 million teachers and exacerbated inequalities with devastating consequences for the most marginalised.
“Teachers, during this crisis, showed great leadership toward innovation in ensuring that learning continues and made extensive efforts to ensure that no learner is left behind. We need to think beyond Covid-19 and work harder to build great resilience in our education systems so we can respond quickly and effectively to this crisis and other similar crises that may occur,” he said.
Education minister, Anna Nghipondoka also applauded Namibian teachers for their bravery despite their own lives also being at risk during the pandemic.
She then paid tribute to all the teachers who have lost their lives due to Covid-19.
“It is imperative to note the psychological discomfort experienced in the teaching profession in the past few months; with more than 100 teachers losing their lives due to the pandemic. We have intensified the need for self-care and special psychological care to be given to teachers. This will enhance not only the physical and psychological well-being of the teachers, but enable them to cope better with this crisis and consequently enhance their ability to perform better in their teaching role,” the minister said.
She acknowledged teachers for the sheer tenacity and perseverance they displayed during this period, saying research carried out in several countries have revealed that in the teaching profession, there have been many casualties of stress, anxiety and depression, and role limitations due to physical and emotional problems.
Many of our teachers shared their stories of building resilience, which was related to better coping, teaching and balancing their school and family lives.
“With the significant demands placed on our teachers, we experienced that the majority of our teachers continue to build close collaboration with other colleagues, sharing best practices and learning from others,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nantu acting president Daniel Humbu has called upon government to speed up the negotiations by considering the demands that seek to improve the working conditions of teachers that was submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister.
He said teachers, despite being the backbone of the education system in Namibia, face numerous challenges such as poor working conditions, lack of support for teaching and learning resources as well as overcrowded classrooms.
“Given that teachers shape the future generation, dedicating one day to thank them is the least that we can do. Remember that teachers are important no matter where you are around the globe. However, the poor working conditions, the unilateral removal of the incentives for qualified teachers in the remote areas, does not sit well with Nantu and needs to be addressed,” Humbu said during the commemoration.