The Polytechnic of Namibia is leaving no stone unturned as the name change process as Namibia’s University of Science and Technology has reached its highest level. Consistent with the long running name change is programming to reflect the depth and character of the new mandate.
Professor Tjama Tjivikua and his charges are burning the late night oil to ensure that once the process gets the final approval from the cabinet it will be a seamless and smooth roll over. In the 2014 academic year the PoN introduced new programmes and revamped the old ones.
According to Tjivikua revising of all programmes is part of an ongoing process in order for the PoN Programmes in order to remain current and relevant to constant changes going on.
“The revamping is part of our ongoing exercise, every three year on our schedule all programmes must be revised because we must remain current, so thus a requirement for everyone. If you introduce a qualification every three years it must be reviewed, things are changing fast. What is happening outside must be reflected into the curriculum and so forth,” says the Rector.
On the other hand Tjama explained that the name change has an influence on the new programmes as the mandate of the institution is changing due to the name change. The Polytechnic of Namibia is in the process of changing its name to University of Science and Technology, meaning that the focus will now be on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programmes.
“We must increase our enrollment into the science disciplines and the technology disciplines, which means that we must have those programmes in those fields,” he says.
However, he said that this does not mean that they are doing away with business studies or social sciences, but rather the focus will be mainly on the STEM programmes.
“What we will do is to cap the numbers in business and humanity disciplines and increase the programmes, the students and services and so on in the science programmes,” he elaborates.
This means that gradually over the next five years the PoN will increase enrollment to about 60% while business and social science will share the 40%.
He adds, “As you can imagine the Polytechnic of Namibia was not designed as a university of science and technology, we started to grow that way because we cut a niche for ourselves that way and that will be a gradual process.”
Tjivikua is upbeat that as NUST they have the clout to carry the mandate as PoN has capacity within and externally. Tjivikua explained that they have PhD holders within the system who are professors. Not only is that PoN also linked to other universities making it easier for a student to be supervised at PoN while being moderated by a professor at a partner university elsewhere in the world.
He says that PoN is also “growing its own timber”, as currently about 70 lecturers working towards their doctorates, which will further give the PoN a competitive advantage in rolling out world class graduates.
He stressed that it is important that PoN being the only university of science and technology in Namibia create that capacity within. He also emphasised the value of knowledge generation and sharing as a currency which has no limits in the development of individuals and the country.
“We need to populate the country with learned people what we call the knowledgeable workers, it important to import experts from elsewhere, to enrich our society,” he stresses.
Tjivikua knowledge should not be limited to the academia only but should trickle down to scholars through exchange programmes to enrich learning process and the sharing of knowledge.
“If knowledge goes in a cocoon that knowledge is dead,” he warns.
Tjivikua said that in order for universities to be relevant to the development and meeting challenges of people on the streets, networks need to be expanded, knowledge needs to be shared and universities need to do what they are best at doing.
“Thus why we need to expand networks, thus why we need to share, thus why we need universities to do what they are best at doing. If you create a new idea, I copy that idea and that I build on that and create something new, they you say I didn’t think about that, you take that idea now advanced by me and take it and advance it to another level. Now you take it and come about a new idea about that. That is what it is about, it is about knowledge networks. Namibia needs to build and create a knowledge economy in line with Vision 2030, it is about sharing knowledge, knowledge workers, experts and highly educated people and so on, is good for the country so we should empower the universities to do what they want.,” he elaborates.
Tjivikua said the PoN radiates excitement in many ways to show that the institution is doing a good job, something he says Namibia does not celebrate every day.
“Producing graduates, enticing others to study in the country and also creating leaders, inventors, philosophers and entrepreneurs, there is a lot of excitement about that,” says Tjivikua.
In terms of the name changing, Tjivikua said that they so far completed documentation for the Law Reform Development Commission. He is however confident that the process will be completed this year.
He adds that the preparations are underway to prepare for the new logo and signage and the process is expected to be complete later this year.
“The process must go on, you can’t wake up one day and you are given a name and you don’t have anything in place, So we have to get ready for the big party for the world, we have to invite our partners in universities to come and join the celebrations because it is a very significant event,” says the excited Rector who has seen it all.
In the mean time Tjivikua says the PoN is growing from strength to strength. Last year, the institution won the Diamond Arrow Award by the Professional Management Review (PMR) for the fourth consecutive time as best institute of education in Namibia.
Tjivikua said that this comes up hard because the institution should continue to improve to sustain the level of quality.
“We want to grow quality we want to grow school numbers, we want to refine our systems, we want to see culture change, culture change meaning that, it can’t just about name change but things have to be happening,” he emphasises.
Tjivikua concluded the institution needs to conduct itself in a different manner so that it can be seen that not only a renamed PoN, but that they are new university and this is what they are working hard on. PF