Change your attitude - Steenkamp

Teachers get a pep talk

07 February 2020 | Education

While announcing the appointment of 399 new teachers countrywide – at a cost of N$134 million to government coffers – education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp urged educators to change their attitude toward the new curriculum that has evoked widespread criticism.

Steenkamp, who was addressing stakeholders yesterday at the last regional briefing in Windhoek on the new curriculum, said that last year, there were more than 30 900 teachers in the country and 1 897 schools.

According to her, of the ministry's N$13.8 billion budget, 83% (N$11.5 billion) is spent on salaries.

Steenkamp added there has been a lot of confusion regarding the new curriculum and that there needs to be a common understanding with higher institutions on the way forward.

By March, information will be provided to students on the requirements to qualify for university on the new curriculum, she said.

Steenkamp further said teachers have been displaying ignorance or rebellion towards the new curriculum, adding that they should have a more approachable attitude.

“Things cannot stay the same. It changes. The revised curriculum is not a threat. Change can also be seen as a good thing and improve the status quo. We can never be satisfied with the average.

“Curriculum implementation is a process that requires collaborative dialogue,” she said.

Meanwhile, Khomas education director Gerard Vries said that by last year, there were 91 841 learners in the region and only 3 953 teachers.

It is estimated that there are 6 507 grade 10 learners and 2 500 grade 11 learners this year. However, these numbers are expected to escalate as exact figures will only be known next week, said Vries.

He noted that there are a total of 129 schools in the Khomas Region, of which 84 are government schools. According to Vries, 48 are government primary schools and there are 30 government secondary schools.

He said there is a need for land to construct more schools in the region. At least four more primary schools and eight more secondary schools need to be built.

Vries further noted that the ministry will this year have to foot a massive N$2.14 million bill for the grade 8, 9 and 10 learners who were not promoted. This, he said, is only for the Secondary Education Grant disbursed by the ministry and does not include stationery, textbooks or cleaning materials. According to Vries, six schools with 862 learners have been identified where the ministry plans to implement National Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary (NSSCO) level. A total of 29 teachers are needed at these schools. A further eight schools have been confirmed to offer NSSCO level, while 17 schools are set to offer Namibian Senior Secondary Certificate Advanced Subsidiary (NSSCAS) level. Vries however stressed that these schools will be reviewed after the first examination. Elaborating on some of the challenges faced in the region, Vries said there is a need for school construction in densely populated areas. “We urgently need a round-table discussion between the Khomas regional council and the City of Windhoek to agree on land availability.” “Mother tongue instruction is not taking place at most schools and there are no qualified teachers for Afrikaans, Khoekhoegowab and German foreign language.” Vries also mentioned that there is a high staff turnover, high absenteeism rate of teachers and low morale amongst teachers and learners. Steenkamp added that educators represent 36.8% of government's wage bill. “There is no time to work without integrity or to be absent from work with fake doctors notes,” she said.