Nam defends Zim teacher training
Windhoek – Namibia’s Ministry of Education has come out in defence of the student-exchange programme it has with Zimbabwe, which allows Namibians to study at teachers’ training colleges in Zimbabwe. Students who have graduated through the programme have alleged that they struggle to land employment upon their return to Namibia as schools reportedly refuse to recognise their qualifications or to hire them. The local media has since last year been reporting on claims by the teacher graduates that they turned away from prospective employment because they are only qualified to teach a single subject as opposed to those who studied at colleges in Namibia who can teach multiple subjects. The Ministry’s Media Liaison Officer, Ester Paulus however dismissed the claims saying the qualifications attained at teachers’ training colleges in Zimbabwe were legitimate and fully recognised by the Namibia Qualification Authority (NQA) – the local qualification crediting body. Paulus told The Southern Times that teachers trained in Zimbabwe were adequately qualified to teach in their area of specialisation in Grades 8-12, which gave them an edge over local colleges graduates who can only teach Grades 8-10. She said when graduates are turned away by schools it is usually because of issues such as the extent of teaching experience gained, as opposed to their areas of specialisation. “The problem we have is that we have too many job seekers in the Maths and Science teaching discipline. Local colleges offer such training, so does the University of Namibia and now also the teachers’ training colleges in Zimbabwe. “Given such scenario, competition is bound to be tough in such discipline and therefore it would be difficult to land a job,” she said. She added that most schools have a large staff complement and usually only need an extra teacher to fill the gap and would therefore only appoint a person who has been trained in the teaching of more than one subject. “If there is a teacher that feels that he or she has been unfairly denied a position he or she qualifies for, they are free to write to the ministry and express their grievances, but even UNAM graduates who only specialise in one subject can also be turned away.” Graduates from Zimbabwe’s Teachers training colleges have also claimed they are paid less compared to their counterparts from UNAM, which they say is unfair as they all teach similar Grades. The Ministry of Education has in the past gone on record stating that graduates from the country’s university are holders of a four-year teaching qualification, as opposed to those from the Zimbabwean colleges who hold a three-year qualification. Between 700 and 800 graduates have gone through the exchange programme which started in 2003 and enrolled its last group in 2008. Students are trained at Mutare Teachers’ College and Belvedere Technical Teachers’ College.