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WVTC students left out by budget cuts

Fri, 24 March 2017 19:27
by Kelvin Chiringa

Windhoek Vocational Training Centre’s (WVTC) Principal Paulus Haukongo has said his institution is forced to take 1 000 students annually alone as opposed to its goal of 6 000 as the budget cuts take a pinch on vocational education, The Villager can exclusively reveal.

While this is bad news to many prospective TVET students, the WVTC is aligning itself with the new budget allocation and is in the process of reviewing its activities to make cutbacks on expenditure. “We are having the Harambee concept, that nobody should feel left out and at WVTC the annual number of intake is close to 6 000 while 2 000 students are allowed per every intake. Now we have to limit ourselves to just 1 000.

We lowered this because of the economic hardships we are facing, yet this is a challenge because people have an interest to take our training,” said Haukongo. What makes the situation worse is that the institution will not be able to procure adequate training material, Haukongo has also told The Villager. “Vocational training in general will continue but we are affected in terms of providing all the necessary training material. Our aim is to provide quality training and produce employable people. With the small money we have now, we may achieve that aim but the process will be slow,” said Haukongo.

With the severe budget cuts striking a blow at tertiary education institutions, calls for self-sustainability to cut the government dependency syndrome have become louder. Vice Chancellor at the University of Science and Technology Tjama Tjivikua has welcomed the budget with reservations citing that such cuts kills the national effort towards creating a knowledge based economy among other reasons. On the other hand, NUST has indicated that it is already tightening its belt in response to the meagre budget allocations.

“NUST has proactively undertaken to meet its obligations with the meagre resources by employing appropriate economising measures. Consultations are (being) held across the University community to sensitise and engage the University community about the financial challenge,” said the university’s communications officer Kuda Brandt. In a public lecture on the governance of higher education institutions in challenging economic conditions, Australian Professor Sid Nair, drawing examples from the Australian context advised that institutions of higher learning could start considering venturing into profitable business. “Universities in Australia invest and the returns fall back to them.

The budget cuts imply severe repercussions for the higher education governance in Namibia. When you have these cuts, it has an impact on quality,” he said. He said the institutions could start thinking on how best to attract a con siderable pool of foreign students given that they bring in a lot of revenue. “In Australia we make sure that foreign students are able to work in our country, they create jobs and thus bring in capital,” he said.

He also said that such deficits in budgets should be effectively responded to by strengthening the quality urgencies. However, University of Namibia’s Pro-Vice Chancellor Kenneth Matengu revealed that while UNAM received an estimated 2000 applications from prospective student-doctors, the institution could only accommodate a mere 85 students. “We would need more investment to take in international students. We are limited by infra-structure facilities and thus accommodation is a challenge,” he said.

Namibian National Students Organisation (NANSO) Secretary General Dimbulukeni Nauyoma has said tertiary institutions should drastically reduce staff salaries instead of crying foul over budget cuts. It has emerged in the media that the Vice Chancellor at UNAM earned a whooping N$2.1 million.

“Budget cuts are a good thing; our universities must begin to think outside the box. Student intake increased from 500 to 10000, many administration blocks were built and staff capacity has increased, so when government sees that they say oh you have money and they chop the budget. When the budget is cut that is when you think that revenues have to increase yet you increased the consumption side. Your consumption side must not become your burden when the budget it cut,” he said.