The University of Namibia (Unam) has introduced a four-year Bachelor of Military Science (B Mil) degree programme aimed at equipping military personal with new technology trends.
The University will collaborate with the Ministry of Defence and other stakeholders to implement and facilitate this programme.
According to the Dean of Unam’s Faculty of Science Ferdinand Gideon the ministry of defence has realised there is a need to equip students with versatile skills useful also for transitioning from military to civilian life upon leaving active duty.
“As the world changes the ministry needs to change their environment to equip most of their staff members with necessary skills and knowledge to respond to the current demand and that is why the ministry decided to approach the university to establish this as a response towards these new developments,” he explains.
According to Gideon, the curriculum for Military Science at a degree level comprises specialised services in basic military (General Army), Nautical (Navy) and Aeronautic (Airforce).
The first intake of 60 students will consist of military personnel who have already gone through training and obtained military competence and will be now exposed to academic content as well as high school graduates.
“Some of the students to be enrolled will come as officers already armed with skills and experiences gained through their service defending the Republic of Namibia,” he stresses.
Gideon explained that the academic content will be taught at Unam while the students will be exposed to the military training Okahandja Military School during holidays.
The Ministry of Defence has identified and assessed 35 serving military personnel who will receive the academic training which the rest of the applicants are subject to the university requirements which is an age restriction of 18 to 25 years, 25 points, C in English and Mathematics and basic sciences; Physical Science and Biology.
Gideon explained that during the first year the students will be placed with ordinary general science students and will only be given the choice to specialise in their second year.
However, he said the university fears that since these students are taught how to think independently, it might not be congruent with the proceedings of a typical army.
“In the defence force you are not allowed to have some of these traits so now we don’t know how they will balance on these two aspects.”
“I hope the ministry is very much prepared to deal with these situations because eventually its them who will be in trouble, because these guys are being taught to be independent thinkers and in the defence force you have to obey,” he says.
Gideon added that the Airforce will be trained through Namibian Aviation Training Academy (NATA) while the Navy will be trained under Namibia Maritime and Fisheries Institute (NAMFI).
He further noted Unam signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Military Academy of South Africa and will receive assistance whenever that is needed.
“We have a good relationship with the Military Academy of South Africa and our MoU is also very clear, we might even send our graduates there to further their studies,” he exhorts.
However, he said that Namibia has enough resources to introduce its own post graduate programmes in the country.
“I think we have the resources as a country, one of the strengths that we need to take advantage of and there is also a wish from the leadership and the politicians, all we need to do is pave the way do this thing very carefully and implement it,” he says.
He added that there are other countries such as Tanzania who are showing interest in supporting the new programme.
Furthermore, Gideon said that a Head of Department (HoD) has already been recruited and that preparations for the facility are underway. He added that by next year all the laboratories are expected to be in place and the teaching staff is battle ready to take on this new programme.
“We want to establish a very good department with well equipped laboratories and enough teachers to facilitate the teaching department. Most of the courses are science courses and will be no much problem except specialised courses such as nautical and aeronautical,” he elaborates.
Gideon says soon after the programme was advertised the response has been overwhelming.
“People want to move from their current jobs and move here, but its up to them, they have to be subjected to those requirements especially those of the ministry of defence, they have to be tested and assessed they have their own doctors what will conduct those assessments,” says Gideon.
He said that the uniqueness of the programme is that it provides skills that are very scarce and hence the programme addresses very critical areas not only for Namibia but for the entire SADC region.
According to Gideon, the programme will be second to South Africa in the SADC Region. He emphasised that the most important aspect is that it provides the ministry of defence with technical skills that are needed in the modern life.
Gideon said although he does not personally have military experience, they have personnel who have been seconded to the university from the ministry.
He also said that Unam has come to a point of responding to the national need as education has become our campaigning tool. Adding that education should be used to respond to national issues and bring change to people’s lives.
Gideon said that the ministry is concerned about the retirement time of its employees, thus this programme is generalised as much as possible.
“These are general degrees in a sense that we are not strictly training them for a specific career we are trying to leave enough room for them to manoeuvre with their careers as well. There is more computer science and more physics and a bit of mechanics so they can divert into something else if they wish.”
According to Gideon, the excitement about the programme comes with fact that Namibia is able to train its own pilots and naval forces.
“When I went to SA, I was really touched, they have everything within Sardina Bay, there is an airforce there, they are close to the sea they have a huge space so all the activities take place there,” he narrates.
Gideon concluded saying that ministry of defence being an important organ of the government has fully committed itself to this programme and those expectations are very high. PF