WINDHOEK - In a rare move, Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) and the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) leaders has joined hands demanding that the recent tabled Education Bill be referred to a relevant parliamentary committee for further public scrutiny and consultations.
It is the unionists’ consideration that should the Bill be passed in its current form, it will result in endless litigation about its interpretations and its implementation.
The Bill which was tabled by Education, Arts and Culture Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa last month is currently under discussion in the National Assembly for debate and consideration.
A letter jointly signed by TUN secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha and Nantu SG Basilius Haingura on October 17 and addressed to the National Assembly Speaker, Professor Peter Katjavivi states their submission is from practitioners in the education sector on behalf of the teaching fraternity through their respective representatives of both unions.
“We as unions representing the key stakeholders entrusted with delivering quality education have equally been anguished and disturbed by, especially the inadequate reflections of the contributions and inputs from groups and people such as ourselves towards this bill,” the unionists wrote.
They say the Bill in its current form is in serious contradiction of certain provisions of the Namibian Constitution and the Public Service Act, Act No.13 of 1995 together with the staff rules made in terms of that Act.
Furthermore, they indicate that it is their strong conviction that the Bill fails to capture the real issues and short comings in the education sector but rather concentrate and places undue emphases on peripheral and inconsequential matters.
“We hope and trust that it is perfectly within our right to raise this issue in the manner and format that we do-guided by the principle of participatory parliamentary democracy. It is our strongly held belief further that it is the duty of members of the National Assembly to entertain direct contributions from groups such as ourselves other than fellow parliamentarians only,” the joint letter reads.
Against this, they ask the National Assembly to refer the Education Bill to other relevant committee for further debate and scrutiny by the public and stakeholders.
Katjavivi yesterday confirmed having received the letter, but said he did not respond to them yet.
He said the National Assembly has noted their request and it depends on the house to do so.
“It’s normal that a Bill be referred to a committee, particularly a Bill of that size so a small group can do the refinements. The Bill is currently going through a debate in the house. Once they are done-someone within the chamber will move to refer the Bill to the committee to facilitate further refinement. It is within the rules of parliament to do so. Any external request to do is really like re-enforcing the house to do,” he explained.
Furthermore, he said Hanse-Himarwa has the final say as she has to give consent because the committee might refer the Bill back to the ministry or accede to the request to allow the committee to do the refinements.
At the time of tabling the Bill, the minister said the ministry carried out an extensive consultation process with stakeholders across Namibia during the review of the Education Act of 2001.
She also defended the Bill that an extensive review of literature review and relevant documentation was carried out.
Additionally, she noted 36 interviews with national level stakeholders including senior government officials, previous ministers of education, public administrators, the unions-Nantu and TUN, institutions of higher learning, civil society and private sectors were engaged as key informants. With specific objectives, the Bill aims to strengthen education delivery mechanisms, improve the quality of educational services and enhance access, retention, completion and positive achievements of learners in all Namibian schools.