Nantu’s role in policy analysis and implementation – Opinion

Nantu’s role in policy analysis and implementation – Opinion

AT A MEETING on April 29, the National Teachers Council (NTC) of the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) unilaterally decided to exclude school principals from any leadership positions in Nantu.

The NTC cited the Nantu constitution and the Basic Education Act (BEA) 2020 as legal frameworks for this limitation.

The NTC ruling was based on a legal opinion from two prominent law firms, which sought to provide a legal interpretation of clause 7.2.4 of the Nantu constitution and section 47(7)(k) of the BEA.

A legal opinion is not legally binding. Similarly, the legal opinion given by the law firms rightly states that the NTC has the discretion to consider taking the legal opinion provided or abandon it altogether.

For the NTC to accept the legal opinion without holding a wide-ranging regional consultative meeting with all Nantu members leaves much to be desired.

Interestingly, the resolution contravenes clause 17.1 of the Nantu constitution. If the CNT resolution is not challenged, it will set a bad precedent for the union in the future.

PROVISIONS

The bylaws of an organization are a sacrosanct document. Therefore, due consideration must be taken to preserve its sanctity at all costs. Any contemplation of amending the constitution must be made in accordance with clause 17.1.

Does clause 7.2.4 of the NC, as well as section 47(7)(k) of the BEA, explicitly exclude school principals, inspectors of education (IoE) and senior education officers (SEO) from holding positions of leadership within Nantu structures? as arranged?

Clause 7.2.4 states that “only full and accredited members, such as practicing teachers, technicians, librarians, professors, counseling services, education officers, school inspectors and instructors who do not occupy managerial positions or deal with cases, shall be eligible for nomination and election as union officers at all levels.”

Section 47(7)(k) of the BEA states that “in managing a state school, the functions of the principal are… to assist the regional director in managing disciplinary matters relating to teachers and other staff members…”

Nantu’s main objectives include defending teachers’ rights, fostering cooperation, and protecting teachers’ interests.

It aims to be the voice of Namibian teachers and is actively involved in educational issues.

It has a hierarchical leadership structure that includes several levels such as the CNT, the highest decision-making body, made up of representatives from different regions; the national executive committee (CNE), responsible for implementing the decisions made by the CNT; the secretary who is in charge of daily administrative tasks; regional bodies that represent teachers at the regional level; the branch bodies that represent teachers at the local level and the school bodies that represent teachers at the school level.

IS A DIRECTOR A TEACHER?

The BEA defines a “teacher” as a member of staff qualified to teach others in formal education and whose occupation is teaching and includes a member of staff who does not have teaching qualifications but has other skills and qualifications relevant to teaching.

Additionally, it defines “principal” as a teacher who holds the position of principal of the school. Principals are, in fact, teachers and school principals.

The BEA only states that a headteacher is a “school principal”, but does not state that a headteacher is a manager or a member of the management team as defined in the Public Service Act 1995.

The NTC’s argument that a director is a manager and therefore cannot hold a leadership position in the union is invalid.

Does the BEA regulate the operations of unions in Namibia? Unions are regulated by the Labor Law of 2007.

The term “unions” is only mentioned once in the BEA: in relation to the appointment of people to the National Council for Lifelong and Adult Learning.

Education Council.

The term “teachers unions” is mentioned four times in the BEA.

Firstly, with regard to the appointment of people to the National Council for Lifelong Learning and Adult Education.

Secondly, with regard to the appointments of the National Education Advisory Council.

Thirdly, in relation to the appointment of people for the Regional Education Forums. Fourthly and finally, regarding the appointments of members of the National Board of Examinations, Evaluations and Certification.

If the BEA does not regulate the operations of other unions such as Napwu, PSUN and TUN – which negotiate and organize their members who fall under the unified structure and teaching service categories of staff members in the public service under the Ministry of Education – also cannot be used to regulate the operations of Nantu whose members fall under the teaching service of the same ministry.

Therefore, the BEA does not regulate the operation of unions, including Nantu.

TERMS OF SERVICE

Was the NTC wrong in its judgment in passing the resolution excluding directors from holding leadership positions in the union?

The decision to exclude directors and other union members from leadership positions in the union was not expected to emerge from Nantu; rather the employer, who must ensure that it applies to all unions under the Ministry of Education (Napwu, PSUN, TUN and Nantu).

Nantu is just one of many unions representing Ministry of Education employees.

Nantu’s role in the analysis and implementation of Section 47(7)(k) of the Basic Education Act should be limited to that of a watchdog, ensuring that all government/ministerial policies are in line with the agreement. recognition and that any unfair actions are detected and rectified labor practices that emanate from the application of laws and policies.

By failing to analyze the policy in question and determine whether, by implication, the employer acted unilaterally and altered the directors’ conditions of service (by adding additional responsibilities to the directors’ job descriptions), NTC is complicit in violating clause 8( p) of the recognition agreement concluded between the employer and the unions (Napwu,

Nantu).

The NTC failed to focus on the bigger picture, which are the basic issues that constitute its core business and mandate. Instead of passing a resolution instructing the NEC to engage the employer and determine whether the directors deserve (not) additional benefits due to the changes in conditions of service contemplated above,

The NTC passed a resolution seeking to preserve union leadership positions in the union for a select group of members. This is unconstitutional.

THE RIGHT THING TO DO

Therefore, I maintain that the NTC committed a crucial error of judgment when it passed the resolution to exclude a section of union members from serving at all levels of the union structures.

The only sensible thing the NTC can do is to call an urgent NTC meeting to consider overturning its reckless resolution before the restructuring exercise begins at the school and branch level this month (May) as well as at the regional level in June. /July. before the national congress scheduled for August/September.

In conclusion, principals are teachers, therefore, principals who are full members of Nantu in good standing have every right to participate in union activities, to elect and be elected to positions of authority within union structures. according to the Nantu constitution.

– Naftal K Shigwedha is an educator who served as Nantu Professional Coordinator from 2015 to 2021. The views expressed here are his own.

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