If lawmakers get their way, headmasters at public schools could be employed on a contractual basis which will only be renewed, if the school they head performed well.
Lawmakers are currently debating the impact of under resourced teachers on the quality of education for both primary and secondary schools spiralled a substantial debate between Members of Parliament (MP) earlier this week.
During the discussion, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa noted that the long mooted appointment of principals on contracts should be finalised.
Simataa explained that the persistent fears that have been expressed by the teacher unions over the years in terms of this development should as well be addressed.
“We must change the current debilitating culture that permeates the civil service that people are entitled to be employed forever and that we are entitled to our salaries because it is end of the month regardless of whether we have achieved the expected deliverables” said Simataa.
He further highlighted that the culture of delivery across the public service should be resurrected because the performance management system presents the country with golden opportunities to do so.
“Teachers should have the skills and confidence to effectively manage the teaching and learning environment by drawing on pervasive resources occasioned by the development of the digital age” he said.
However in a telephonic interview with The Patriot, Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU), Secretary General Basilius Haingura’s was not in agreement with Simataa’s contribution to the debate. Haingura stressed that Simataa was missing the point as it would be unfair to only pick a certain category of people in the education sector such as the principals. “I feel they are missing the point because these people are already appointed on permanent basis, which means if they are not delivering national leaders should take them on by holding them accountable” he said.
Haingura highlighted that for headmasters to be employed on a contract basis, the Public Service Act should be changed in order to accommodate everyone.
“Everyone should now be appointed on contract and not only the principals, then only will it be a reasonable practice” noted Haingura. He further explained that there are many factors involved which do not only point towards principals as far as school performance is concerned.
The Executive Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Markus Kampungu did not comment on the matter when approached.
“It is difficult for me to comment as I was not present nor was I aware of it[the debate], which is why I am not able to draw a conclusion. But what I can say is that the issue of placing principals on contract is a difficult one as there are many issues that need to be considered” noted Kampungu.
Kampungu stressed that a contract alone would not determine whether a person will perform or not perform because there are many people employed on contract-not only in the public sector but in the private sector as well-yet in some cases the performance is not up to standard.
“A contract alone does not give you a fair assessment on whether people will perform or not perform. The system will have to change but note that changing systems from contract to permanent it is not new in the public service” he said Kampungu.
During the debate, Swapo MP Sophia Swartz noted that shifting blame breeds contention and defensiveness and takes the focus away from what’s important which is the children.
“The culture of shifting blame in the education sector is affecting the quality of education and it should be stopped” stressed Swartz. She further added that the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture alone is not responsible for the success or failure of the education system. “We are all collectively responsible for it. That includes the Minister of Education, the parents, the teachers as well as the national leaders” said Swartz.