This morning’s discussion at the Covid-19 Communication Centre is on the continuation of teaching and learning in stage 2 of lockdown. Panellists are basic education minister Anna Nghipondoka and basic education executive director Sanet Steenkamp.
Nghipondoka reiterated that schools reopened on 20 April, but teachers are working remotely to ensure education and learning continue through alternative means. She said pupils could learn both online, offline and with printed material.
Nghipondoka says her ministry’s staff can now physically go back to school unless they are considered vulnerable and this is confirmed by a physician. She said pupils will remain at home. “We rely on the health ministry to determine the way forward for the whole country,” she said.
Steenkamp said education has been deeply affected with a lot of disruption and uncertainty. She said the ministry reworked the two options of reopening schools.
Many teachers reported to work on 20 April, but worked remotely, she said. As teachers now return to schools physically by 11 May at the latest, thorough cleaning of schools is required.
Steenkamp said the ministry is working towards procuring masks and hand sanitiser, liquid soap and deep cleaning materials for teachers in the regions. She said the e-learning task force will kick off training for teachers on Microsoft.
HIGH SCHOOL FEES … The basic education minister said private schools are registered with the government and some are subsidised by the government. She said all schools need to be treated equally – especially when it comes to the health situation. She said as private schools may have unique needs, the education ministry will have a meeting to understand these needs.
“When we thought of going to stage 4, we considered all schools. The Covid-19 pandemic is a global issue and we are busy consulting widely, not only in the country. This way we can see how other countries are dealing with this, so we can understand the situation of private schools,” she said.
Nghipondoka said the ministry is also trying to accommodate early childhood development centres and crèches, but parents need to meet the government halfway.
“It is up to parents to see whether children can be taken care of in terms of learning at home. I am sorry to say this, but this is a national issue. Whatever decision the government is making, we have arrived at a thorough conclusion. Let’s be responsible and accountable and look at the bigger picture,” she said.
The ministry’s executive director said parents are struggling, but are looking at tutoring as an option to assess children at home.
“It is not easy, we are considering parents’ situation and we understand,” she said.
In terms of e-learning, the minister further added that their schools in locations such as Havana are handled in line with all schools that don’t have access to technology. She said this is an on going discussion the government is having. She admitted that this has been a national challenge that they are looking into it.
Responding to questions on funding to private schools, he said there are different categories on how they are funded.
“The reason why we took away funding from these private in 2018 is because of the shortage of funds, and the funding model was not universal. We are working on a subsidy policy to private schools and see how to revive it. Funding was to say allow for learners from disadvantaged families to be enrolled at those schools but that did not happen,” she said.
HEALTH UPDATE: Deputy health minister Esther Muinjangue says the situation on confirmed Covid-19 cases remain the same, with eight recoveries. Speaking at the Covid-19 Communication Centre this morning, Muinjangue said the eight active cases are stable.
Namibia has had no Covid-19 deaths. As of yesterday, the number of samples tested at two laboratories is 1 181. The number of people quarantined is 845, of which 540 have been discharged, and 305 are still quarantined.
“We are in stage 2 of lockdown, and wearing masks is mandatory. We have learnt people are sharing masks as they are borrowing from each other. This is high risk. Refrain from doing things that may put you at risk. Some masks are disposable. Please don’t share them,” she said.
Also speaking at the centre is information minister Peya Mushelenga. He says the regulations are crafted in such a way that everyone can afford a mask. He says any material, like scarves, can be used as a mask.
“Everyone would be in a position to have material to cover their mouth and nose. Thus the question of affordability is out the window,” he said.