THE Africa Super League was launched in Tanzania this week amid much fanfare, with huge prize money for the 24 clubs who qualify for the first edition next year.
AS IF NAMIBIAN schoolchildren do not already have enough challenges, the looming strike by government employees might very well be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
For the record, we are by no means joining the apparent emotional blackmail of education minister Anna Nghipondoka who appealed to teachers to care about the needs of their pupils by avoiding what can only be a devastating work stoppage.
Nghipondoka correctly pointed out that school-children will suffer yet again. In addition to lessons coming to a halt, school feeding programmes will stop; hostels will shut down and affect mainly children from poor families and rural backgrounds.
Nghipondoka argues that “pupils have already experienced immense learning loss over the past two years” ostensibly because of Covid-19.
What she and many government leaders continue to ignore, or fail to appreciate, is that decades of mismanagement, greed and corruption have left Namibian children the main losers.
Many more children will definitely miss out on basic education because of the strike so soon after the Covid-19 shutdowns, and as the country tries to recover from its aftermath.
The majority of children have lost out on quality education for years because of the mismanagement of the system by politicians and civil servants.
Only a tiny fraction of children complete the 12- to 13-year basic schooling cycle because there are just not enough skilled teachers, compounded by insufficient educational tools as basic as textbooks.
Just last week, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) broke the expected but no less devastating news: Most schools have no internet connection to enable remote and digital learning.
In fact, the government has reported that fewer than two out of every 100 (of over 800 000) school-children were able to access the ministry of education's internet-based learning platforms.
Less than 30% of Namibia's 1 800 schools have basic technological infrastructure. More than 600 schools have zero telecommunication connectivity, while about 350 have no electricity.
For all the bravado of Teachers' Union of Namibia (TUN) leader Mahongora Kavihuha, that teachers will easily make sure their pupils catch up on learning lost because of the strike, too many children have already fallen way too far behind over the years to be able to catch up without a complete system overhaul.
The Covid-19 pandemic definitely inflicted massive damage over the past two years. Yet there is still no sign that the education authorities have a plan to recover.
Perhaps what a strike or the threat of a strike by civil servants can achieve is to jolt political leaders and top bureaucrats into getting to grips with the reality that spending taxpayer funds like there's no tomorrow has catastrophic long-term consequences.
Top leaders cannot continue to preach a tightening of belts by everyone but themselves. Without setting what might amount to a symbolic example of cutting down on wasteful positions and spending, the impending strike is a strong message that politicians cannot continue to restrict funding for the needs of society, such as schools.
Politicians must lead by example and do away with many of their perks that are bleeding public coffers dry and encouraging a culture of milking public resources while doing little work. Quality education geared towards productive and practical ways of life is key to the long-term strength of the economy.
Government leaders and top bureaucrats must heed the alarm bells sounded by the threat of strike action. They must move swiftly to cut mismanagement and corruption in order to redirect resources to productive activities.
Anything less, then Namibians should brace for social unrest by youths not skilled enough to play a meaningful role in society.