Search
Friday 18 January 2019
  • :
  • :

Libidinous teachers worry education authorities

WINDHOEK, 08 June 2016 - Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Sanet Steenkamp speaks to members of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) education delegation. (Photo by: Joseph Nekaya) NAMPA

The education ministry is having sleepless nights over teacher-learner relationships, a situation that has prompted the ministry to encourage school learners to report “unwelcomed” sexual behaviour committed against them by teachers.

 
Over the years, teachers have been able to get away with devious acts such as sexually harassing and impregnating school girls by simply resigning before action is taken against them.
 
During the first quarter of 2016, 20 misconduct cases on sexual-related incidents were reported to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture countrywide. In these cases teachers were charged for having been romantically involved with learners.
 
Speaking to The Patriot on Thursday, permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp described teaching as a noble profession which has no “room” for sexual relations between teachers and learners.
“Our profession (teaching) is a noble profession and beautiful profession, a profession which was highly respected because of the kind of conduct we had as teachers,” said Steenkamp.
 
Steenkamp noted that the teachers’ code of conduct is in place and it clearly stipulates what is expected from teachers. She encouraged teachers to be well acquainted with its contents during the induction process.
 
“There is in existence a teacher’s code of conduct that really, for the induction of every new teacher the principal is to ensure that each teacher receives a copy of it and these issues are discussed,” added Steenkamp.
 
When questions were put to her about perceived loopholes in the education system especially when teachers are sexually involved with learners, Steenkamp said her ministry has little powers when it comes to punishing perpetrators.
 
Recently, a teacher in the Oshikoto region at the Otjikoto Secondary School was found guilty of indecent assault.
According to media reports, Moses Shingo admitted to sexually harassing a female learner by touching her “breast”. In his view, Shingo at the time never perceived any wrongdoing as he was, according to him trying “to help the learner”.
 
Shingo said the act of touching the female learner’s breast was to “test whether or not the learner was pregnant”.
He was fined N$3000 by Tsumeb Magistrate David Munzu for his unbecoming behaviour.
 
Shingo returned to school at the beginning of the 2017 academic year but resigned due to massive public outcry over his actions.
In a media statement released on Wednesday, Steenkamp expressed complete disappointment over Shingo’s behaviour.
According to the statement, soon after the incident was reported to the Namibian Police, Shingo rendered his resignation citing “personal” reasons.
 
According to Steenkamp, one of the major obstacles the Ministry faces is lack of reporting of such incidences to management of schools.
 
Human rights lawyer was quoted by The Namibian saying it was the ministry of education’s responsibility to ensure that learners are in a “safe and caring” learning environment.
In essence, the Ministry of Education with little or nothing to do to him in terms of punishing those found guilty of sexual transgression in an event that they opt to resign.
 
According to Steenkamp, the Education, Arts and Culture has little to do in terms of stopping teachers from resigning when charged with misconduct. Under the Public Service Act 13 of 1995, if a teacher is charged with indiscipline a recommendation is made to the Public Service Commission.
 
According to Steenkamp, there are different possible outcomes once a teachers is found guilty of misconduct.
“The person (teacher) when found guilty is discharged from the public service or, the staff member has an option to resign,”
“In this case (Mr.Moses Shingo), the person already indicated that they want to go on early retirement,” noted Steenkamp.
 
However, Steenkamp says the education ministry is committed to protecting the interest of the “Namibian child”.
“When a person (teacher) is found guilty and is discharged or opts to resign, the ministry makes sure that the offence they committed is recorded in their personal file and we make sure that this person is blacklisted,” she stressed.
 
The PS reassured learners that they “come first” in the current education set-up and should therefore not be hesitant to report incidences of unbecoming sexual behaviour by teachers.
“Our interest is to focus on the children, and children should report without fear or favour to their principals, parents or someone they can trust,” added Steenkamp.
 
Steenkamp further warned that her Ministry will use the laws within its realms in totality to ensure that teachers who continue to be sexually involved with learners are removed from the education system.
 
Another danger posed to the education system with regard to sexual relation between learners and teachers is when parents advice learners not to report.
 
“We have had cases whereby teachers (offenders) have had underhand dealings with the parents to withdraw cases,” lamented Steenkamp.
 
According to Steenkamp, some cases die a “natural death” because parents advice learners to withdraw cases, an act she strongly opposes.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *