Clash over school principal

The government has warned the Anglican church that it cannot fire the principal at the government-subsidised church school.

30 March 2020 | Education

ILENI NANDJATO

OSHAKATI



An attempt by the Anglican Diocese of Namibia (ADN) to fire the school principal of St Mary's Odibo High School, Eino Natangwe Heelu, has been blocked by the education ministry.

The ministry said the church had no power to terminate Heelu's contract and if it went ahead, the government would stop all its financial support to the school.

The dispute between Heelu and the church has been a long time coming and this month the education ministry's executive director, Sanet Steenkamp, intervened.

Steenkamp wrote to Right Reverend Luke Lungile Pato, making it clear that Heelu is not employed by the church but by the ministry and therefore the church has no power to fire him.

“However, if the church is still insisting to terminate Heelu's contract, then the ministry will be left with no other option but to withdraw its support in terms of its subsidy from the school. The school is advised to follow proper procedures and submit a report to the executive director as stated in the memorandum of understanding,” Steenkamp wrote.

Efforts to obtain comment from Pato failed.



Church politics

Heelu, who is also a politician and vied unsuccessfully for the position of vice-president of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), said it is all about church politics.

He said the church wants to fire him because he does not belong to the Anglican fellowship. “I have been with this school for the past 15 years and all the efforts I made for the betterment of the school are no more visible. A few people in the church leadership started making unfounded allegations against me in 2012 and they are continuing until now,” Heelu said.

“These people do want me at the helm of the church school because I do not belong to their fellowship. The education ministry has at several occasions requested them to provide evidence of wrongdoing against me, but they failed.”

St Mary's Odibo High School is famous for being the first English-medium school in the north of Namibia and for its role in the political enlightenment of Namibian youth who went on to play a significant role in liberation politics.

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