School closure demanded

• Countrywide protests threatened

30 July 2020 | Education

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Parents, teachers and students are threatening to embark on countrywide mass demonstrations if schools are not closed on Monday.

In a statement issued by the Teachers Union of Namibia, it said after a meeting with education minister Anna Nghipondoka it was resolved that schools should be closed on Monday because of the increasing coronavirus cases in the country.

The union said the minister should announce this on Friday.

Failing that, parents and teachers would stage demonstrations at the education ministry headquarters and government office park in Windhoek, and at regional offices in all 14 regions, the union said.

According to the union, Monday's meeting was attended by trade unions, civic associations, parent groups, student and youth organisations.



Not worth the risk

“After lengthy and exhaustive discussions and thorough scrutiny of the advisability or otherwise of reopening or resuming face-to-face teaching against the background of the now ever-increasing incidents of coronavirus infections, it was unanimously decided that it was inadvisable to resume face-to- face teaching and learning,” said the union.

According to the union, the meeting considered the positions adopted by similarly affected countries such as Botswana and South Africa, and the advice of the World Health Organisation.

The meeting also studied the advice of President Hage Geingob on the issue, which placed the option whether or not to return learners to school squarely in the hands of the parents, said the statement.

However, it was pointed out that this would be problematic because there had been veiled threats that their children would not be promoted if they decided to keep them out of school.



'Sham and pretence'

The union further charged that there would be no effective teaching or learning if a few learners returned to school.

“It is a wholesale sham and pretence that is being perpetuated by the ministry. The question that remains to be asked is whether this is the kind of teaching for which we must risk the lives not only of our children, but those of the teachers, the school establishments and … the general population.”

The union said another factor that must be taken into account is the fact that most schools are inadequately resourced as far as safety precautions are concerned.

“The ministry will obviously not want to be cast in that light and that is why they want to erect a facade of being efficient and having everything in place while in reality they have dismally failed to make adequate provisions in this regard just like everywhere else in this country,” the union said.