Is tertiary education for the rich or for everyone?

By By Michael Tambo
July 2011
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Government set to establish in vision 2030, a “fully integrated, unified education and training system that prepares Namibian learners to take advantage of a rapidly changing environment and contributes to the economic, moral, cultural and social development of its citizens and the country.”

However, the high tuition fees charged by tertiary institutions make this national goal a pipe dream for many, as Namibia has a higher rate of drop outs, further worsening the unemployment plight, says the University of Namibia (Unam) Student Representative Council (SRC).

Unam SRC committee member for Academic Affairs, Helena Taapopi expressed concern at the annual tuition fee increases that have left the dreams of many students shattered.

“I sometimes wonder if tertiary education is for those who can afford or for everyone,” says Taapopi.

This is worsened by the fact that some students are not granted loans by the Government while others are and yet many students are coming from the poor rural backgrounds, she says.

“The education conference comes at the right time to review our performance in the education sector. Namibia is one of the African countries with a huge budget for the education sector but we need to monitor and evaluate our education system to see if we are making the best out of it the investment and getting mileage out of it.”

She hopes that the resolutions from the conference, bent on improving the education system in Namibia will be implemented.

UNAM SRC Chairperson, Francine Muyumba echoed in but with a different tune, saying there is need for the introduction into the curriculum of more practical courses that will impart skills to college leavers for them to become entrepreneurs.

“We are being bombarded with theoretical stuff in our lectures and they lack the practical knowledge that is so important in the real life situations,” he said.

This was also supported by Dr. Raimo Ndapewa who completed his PhD early this year and conducted research on “the integration of identified employability skills into the Namibian Vocational Education and Training system.

The research findings showed that most employers in Namibia are not happy with the skills of Vocational Training graduates because the trainees lack non-technical skills. PF