The Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) is yet to receive more than N$400m needed to transform the technical institution into a fully-fledged university, s writes Timoteus Shihepo.
This is despite the Minister of Education David Namwandi saying Government is making frantic efforts to raise the funds.
PoN’s Rector, Tjama Tjivikua told The Villager that the new mandate of the institution requires a number of changes to be implemented as it become the Namibia University of Science and Technology. He said these include, amongst others, increasing the qualifications in the Science, Technology, and Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields; increasing student enrolment in the STEM fields; and expanding post-graduate enrolment.
“All these will require expansion of physical infrastructure and provision of laboratories and equipment, as well as additional teaching and research staff for the new programmes to be introduced. Besides the costs for transforming the core business of the institution, there are also substantive costs associated with institutionalising a transformation process. So far the institution has not been allocated financial resources for the transformation process.
However, as the institution will be submitting its Strategic and Transformation Plan and the Institutional Operational Plan together with its budget, the Ministry of Education will take into account the additional funding required for implementing transformation. There cannot be any meaningful transformation without injecting additional investments into the new institution,” he said.
Although the Cabinet approved the transformation in a document titled “The Comprehensive and Holistic Review of the Higher Education System in Namibia: Towards Achieving Vision 2030” in December 2012, this decision can only come into effect once the legislation for the establishment of the new university has been promulgated.
“The Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) is finalising the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) Bill for submission to Parliament. Only after the passing of the Bill by Parliament and signing thereof by the President will the new Act establishing the institution come into effect,” said Tjivikua.
Tjivikua said it is hoped that this process will be complete before the end of the year and hence the new institution be launched at the beginning of 2015.
“The process of transforming the Polytechnic into a university has progressed quite far. However, given that it is an ongoing process the new institution will be involved in the process of change for a number of years.
Other internal preparations, like the new strategic and transformation plan and the plan for branding the new institution, are all in place and awaiting the promulgation of the new Act,” he said.
Meanwhile the Minister of Education, David Namwandi has confirmed that Polytechnic of Namibia is on course to transform the technical institution into a fully-fledged university.
Speaking to The Villager the Minister said they have already decided that the Polytechnic of Namibia will become a University and that ‘we can’t go back on that now’.
“Money is hard to come by but we are working on that.
“This is the Minister of Education speaking I promise you we are going to make it happen,” he said when asked whether PoN received the funds.
He added that “We have already tabled for it to become a University so this year we are going to table a bill in Parliament for it to become a fully fledge University. Remember that there was regional consultations, this is a pride of the nation we must be proud that we are going to have a University of Science and Technology in Namibia,” he said.
Despite all of these, Prof Tjivikua said they are confident about the transformation of the technical institution into a university.
“During 2013 whilst the Polytechnic continued to provide an excellent academic service to students, at the same time the Polytechnic community as a whole was deeply involved in developing plans for the future of the university. One of the outcomes of this process, the Strategic and Transformation Plan of the University, which has received acclaim as an excellent document, spells out clear plans and direction we want to pursue into the future”.
He added, “The Polytechnic community is excited and looking forward to the birth of the new institution.
“All this gives us confidence that, indeed, the Namibia University of Science and Technology will add great value to the higher education system and also inject impetus to the development of our country.”
Tjivikua further said it is noteworthy that the establishment of the new university is not something that only the Polytechnic community is waiting with great excitement, he said their recent consultations with various stakeholders across the country revealed that the country is also equally excited about this new development.
“It is expected that the Namibia University of Science and Technology Bill will be enacted before the end of 2014 and this will enable us launch the new university at the beginning of 2015 academic year,” he said.