By Job Shipululo Amupanda
ON 3rd November 2015 I wrote a piece in a daily newspaper asking if we had learned anything from the great educationalist Paulo Freire. In that piece I problematised an emotional decision by Katrina Hanse-Himarwa to ban motivational speakers in all public schools just because of one person. Some school principals still meet me and joke: “We still have that Job Amupanda circular”. At the time, I was receiving numerous requests from schools to go speak to their learners. This placed Katrina and her tiny cohort in discomfort.
I argued, and I still do, that had Katrina read Paulo Freire’s work, she would not be repeating the same mistakes Freire already theorised against. Because of personal qualms she had with those with sharp tongues of truth, all motivational speakers were banned. This excluded private schools where the children of elites like her are schooling. The circular banning motivational speakers clearly stated that under her dictatorship any person invited to speak to pupils must be made known, vetted and approved by her bureaucracy four weeks in advance. I had concluded that piece with the following words of caution: “The message to minister Katrina Hanse- Himarwa is simple; the universal law of nature is immaculate in that everything that goes up will eventually come down. With all due respect, you will not remain a minister for ever. We will, in the very near future, correct your mistakes. Our country must come first. The future of our children must come first; not fear, Facebook promises and personal political scores.”
Following the announcement by the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement that on #June16 the youth will be at Parliament gardens to oppose the construction of a new parliament, Katrina had been busy on Facebook chastising the planned activities of activists. One annoyed youth even asked: “What time does this woman address issues facing our kids when she is ever gallivanting on Facebook”? That Katrina maintains kilometres between herself and what she supposed to do is not a public secret. She is often spotted in mainstream media talking, not educational matters, about ‘third force to destabilise the Hage government’, SWAPO congress and AR. It is as if she is a Minister of SWAPO politics and AR Affairs.
The local daily recently reported the Governor of Kavango West Sirkka Ausiku chastising the belligerent minister for not keeping up to the promises she made regarding hostels and other school infrastructure in her region. To those who follow Katrina’s shenanigans, the Governor’s reprimand of Katrina is long overdue. No one have ever seen Katrina articulating herself on the through-put of learners to secondary that still remains below 60 percent. Only ghosts have heard her dealing with the impacts of the 4 500 un-and-under qualified teachers teaching in junior primary. Only Bushiri knows of Katrina’s views on the social impacts of only 1 018 primary schools available for more than 400 000 primary school learners.
We are not even sure if Katrina is aware of the impact of the internal inefficiency of the education bureaucracy on the implementation of the 15 years neoliberal education strategic plan, the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP). As charlatans are getting ready to defend their flamboyant minister, whom they will say is being disrespected by an unruly youth, they must quickly be alerted to the study by UNICEF and UNESCO that found that more that at least 103 768 children were not attending school in Namibia. The two international organisations also further stated that 99 200 pupils are at risk of dropping out of school in our country. These issues are not receiving any attention in a ministry that has now become a Ministry of Anti-AR Affairs. Katrina doesn’t articulate these issues because her mind is occupied by SWAPO congress, AR and the conspiracy theory of ‘forces to destabilise the Hage government’.
Scandalously, Katrina continues her shenanigans for her education-unrelated adventurism seemingly with support from the top echelons. Having learned that some learners will be accompanying their parents on #June16 to parliament, she quickly moved to ensure that this doesn’t take place. She was overheard saying that she will do what it takes to “fight these boys”. One can only wonder what is next on her ‘anything’ list. She instructed the Permanent Secretary, the credulous Sanet Steenkamp, to issue an instruction to schools to cancel a school holiday and have learners return and lock them up in schools on 16 June from 08h00 to 13h00. What is scandalous is that in the official school calendar that has been approved and distributed to schools, the date June 16 is clearly indicated as a school holiday. Without shame, Katrina chose to violate the school calendar and instruct learners and teachers to cancel their holiday.
Who will pay the overtime? Didn’t Secretary to Cabinet say there is no money? Government probably paid overtime for over 20 000 teachers just because of Katrina’s personal hate of AR? This level of madness and desperate politicking is not only shocking but signaling the collapse of our education system. Worse, is the fact that Katrina seems to have forgotten about the earlier circular that effectively banned motivational speakers and required a months of vetting of these speakers. In their desperate letter 06 June 2016, the ministry writes: “Each school should prepare a program that includes activities such as invited guest/motivational speakers…. to dedicate to this special day”. The 2015 had circular required motivational speakers to be invited four weeks in advance. Between 6 June and 16 of June is only eight working days. “What happened to the four weeks vetting period for motivational speakers? These politicians are really using us in their fights” so agonised one teacher. The basic education sector has never been in a state of confusion and chaos in the past 26 years as it is today. This is very concerning. The basic education system, with more than 600 000 innocent souls, is very important to be left to the gimmicks of Katrina and her cohort. Am I the only one seeing something wrong with these shenanigans?
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015