Educators in Namibia are preparing to go on strike to demand a further increase in their salaries, as well as improved conditions of service.
Negotiations were concluded last year between Government and the Namibia National Teachers' Union, EI’s national affiliate, and the Namibia Public Workers’ Union. The talks resulted in an eight per cent salary increase for all public servants. This was lower than the teacher unions’ initial demand of a 40 per cent salary increase and other improved conditions of service.
Salary increase for politicians
However, in late-2012, the Public Office Bearers' Remuneration and Benefits Commission proposed a 31 per cent salary increase for politicians - a move rejected by the Party Youth League of the South West Africa People's Organisation and the National Union of Namibian Workers.
“It is unfair to give a 31 per cent salary increase to politicians and give only eight per cent to public servants,” said Mika Ndadi, a member of the Teachers’ Strategic Committee. “This is one of the things that might keep teachers away from school, because it is an insult and we are protesting against it. It is totally unfair. We are busy mobilising ourselves and deciding on the way forward.”
Free education being extended
EI Africa Chief Regional Coordinator Assibi Napoe emphasised that: “Namibia, as well as all countries in the region, must understand how crucial it is to invest in education and “provide free public quality education to all citizens, especially at primary level.”
She further welcomed the decision by the national Ministry of Education to stop school fees for primary schools, which recognises the reality that education is a social right and a necessity for all.She pleaded for free and compulsory education to be extended to secondary, vocational, adult and tertiary education as well.
Need for government investment in education
“It is crucial that educators be given a decent salary and good work conditions to achieve education for all and the Millennium Development Goals,” Napoe added. “Privatising education and cutting teacher salaries can never be considered an appropriate response in times of economic and financial crisis.”
Quality education is the way to develop healthy, open and democratic societies, she said, urging Namibian authorities to engage in negotiations with teacher unions.