Khomas acting education director Paulus Lewin has implored teachers and support staff to avoid mass gatherings and conform to hygiene and health protocols to protect themselves from contracting Covid-19.
He said “irresponsible behaviour” could lead to disruption of classes and the temporary closure of schools should teachers or support staff test positive for the virus.
However, Lewin’s message – sent to Khomas school principals on Tuesday – did not go down well with the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) who hit back that the newly appointed acting director is making unfounded allegations of “irresponsible behaviour” by teachers.
TUN secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha on Wednesday said that while they were now engaged in the process of schools reopening and trying to mitigate schools’ psychosocial predicament, Lewin was engaged in unfounded insinuations of “irresponsible behaviour”. “We would be most obliged to be fed with the evidence material you employed to reach such a conclusion, or we would be excused to conclude that you have somehow become big-headed just eight days into your acting director appointment,” Kavihuha reacted.
He went on to say: “The teachers are one of the biggest constituencies that you will be dealing with yet you seem to have already started on a wrong footing when you ascribe irresponsible behaviour to their conduct thus opening the doors of antagonism so early in this relationship, which ought to be one of trust and mutual support, based on concrete and verifiable proof and evidence.”
Kavihuha said these kinds of insinuations do not help anybody and they are a precursor to hard feelings between groups that must, as a matter of course, render mutual support to one another.
“Again in the event that you do not provide any substantial evidence about that irresponsible behaviour by the teacher, which according to you results in the temporary closing of schools, we demand an immediate withdrawal of that statement to the teachers of the Khomas region accompanied by a public apology. Failure of this, teachers reserve the right to take any alternative action.”
Lewin also reminded Khomas schools to put all safety measures in place for the return of learners for face-to-face classes as from next week Monday for grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
He said schools with hostels in particular should plan well in order to ensure that physical distancing is adhered to, adding that they should discuss their approach with the circuit inspectors in order to do the right thing.
“Follow all health protocols and read carefully Regional Directive 6 of 2020 as well as Public Service Management Circular 19 of 2020 in order to familiarise yourself with procedures to follow to prevent, contain and manage the spread of the coronavirus. Staff members should be discouraged from assembling in large gatherings such as weddings, church services and funerals to prevent schools from temporarily closing due to irresponsible behaviour,” Lewin added.