Indemnity forms a matter of trust

No pronouncement has been made on whether indemnity forms should be signed before learners return to schools.

03 June 2020 | Education



With some learners expected to return to schools today, education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp says parents will have to trust that schools have installed the necessary measures to prevent coronavirus infections.

Grade 11 and 12 learners will be back behind their desks today.

Steenkamp made the remarks during an update ahead of the reopening of schools as the country is now in stage three of the state of emergency. Schools were previously closed as a way to prevent the spread of the virus.

No pronouncement has been made on whether indemnity forms should be signed before learners return to schools to take the responsibility for learners' health off the ministry's shoulders.

'Parents should be happy'

“It is a matter of trust; it's a matter of engaging with the school. Parents should be happy with the arrangements schools are making.

“There must be an open dialogue; there must be an understanding of what should be happening,” she said.

Steenkamp acknowledged that schools did not want to be held accountable and said indemnity forms were not a new intervention.

“Indemnity forms are nothing new. Both the parents and the schools are driven by one thing, and that is fear and uncertainty, and that drives parents to ask questions such as who can I hold liable if anything happens to my child?” “That immediately places the school in a position to say, look, we are going to put and follow all the requirements that government wants us to put in place, so the schools, private and public, are working very hard with their councils, management and parents to ensure all this,” she added.

Forms show unreadiness

Teachers Union of Namibia representative Mahongora Kavihuha said if schools were to require parents to sign indemnity forms, it would suggest that the ministry does not trust that the necessary measures have been put in place. “Schools cannot run away from their core mandate of providing quality education. This is coupled with a healthy environment at schools. They themselves do not have the trust and faith in their preparedness,” Kavihuha added. He, however, stressed that it would ultimately be up to parents to be the deciding factor whether they want their children to return to school.

“We are calling on the parents to take the lead and tell us whether they are confident in preparations the ministry has made.”

Parents' input required

Namibia National Teachers Union secretary-general Loide Shaanika said while the ministry had not communicated its final position on indemnity forms, the decision would require the input of parents.

“It is their duty as government to ensure that the premises are safe for employees and learners. We cannot agree on anything. The ministry should not take it for granted,” Shaanika said.

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