WINDHOEK - With the recently tabled Basic Education Bill, the Teachers’ Union of Namibia (TUN) has questioned the logic behind certain sections of the Bill regarding powers of school boards to recommend to school management in terms of disciplinary matters in relation to teachers, learners and other staff members.
The 2018 Education Bill was tabled by Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa in the National Assembly last week. The Bill is a review of the Education Act of 2001 to bring it in line with the latest developments and current needs of the country’s education system.
The planned amendments aim to meet the challenges facing the education sector in order to ensure inclusive and equal access to teaching and learning in Namibia.
The revised Bill was however received with mixed feelings by TUN Secretary General Mahongora Kavihuha.
He raised issues with section 50 (K) and (L) in the Bill, which states that school boards to have powers to make recommendation to the principal and regional director on disciplinary matters relating to teachers, other staff members and learners. The same section, sub-section (K) says school boards have powers to advise and assist the regional director in misconduct and disciplinary actions on teachers and other members, subject to the relevant public service and education related policies and legislations.
Kavihuha said the Public Service Act and staff rules are already clear on disciplinary matters, actions and misconduct.
He said TUN does not see the need for the Bill to deal with matters already covered by other effective and efficient existing laws and their institutions.
“That is not good and we reject it. The teachers are public servants employed on the recommendation of the Public Service Commission as per the Public Service Act. Their disciplinary matters are handled in line with the Public Service Act, its regulations and staff rules. That should remain as such. By the way, the school boards are being run by Grade 4 and 7 dropouts who happen to be former learners of that specific school. What does a school learner know about school preparation?” he questioned.
He said TUN will never allow a school dropout to come and discipline a professional teacher.
Kavihuha says school board duties should be confined to issues of learners, curriculum and school buildings, saying it should never overlap with other laws.
He said the first consultative meeting with the ministry agreed that there must be changes but some pieces of legislations are still the same as before consultation.
He noted those soliciting public views come already with their fixed positions and that’s the problem the union seeing in the Bill.
“The things that we as stakeholders agreed to change are still the same. This can be attributed to attitude of the consultants. These people come with their fixed positions which they have learned somewhere in country A. We need to fight this and that’s exactly what is happening in this Bill,” he remarked.
The Bill make provision that the minister will appoint school inspectors which means these inspectors will report to the minister.
This TUN says will undermine the role of the permanent secretary, regional directors and might also undermine the Public Service Act in the appointment of public servants.
He opined that the Public Service Act clearly states that the appointment of public servants should be done on the recommendation of the Public Service Commission by the Prime Minister.
Therefore, he expressed displeasure that the Bill is contradicting the Public Service Act because the minister is the one to appoint the school inspector.
“It means the Minister of Education want to play or compare herself to the President of the country where the head of state has regional governors who represent the President in the region. It means the education minister also want her own people also in the same function like the regional governors who represent her. We have seen this from the very first engagement and we said that is wrong,” Kavihuha said.
He said school inspectors need to be abolished as they have no meaning instead of the minister alleviating the position.
According to him, few weeks ago when he met the management of education ministry, he raised the issue of abolishment of school inspectors but they “blindly said that has been changed but it’s what we are seeing here. What nonsense is that?”