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N$6.8m for new Science University

Mon, 2 March 2015 17:21
by Jona Musheko

The Municipality of Tsumeb in collaboration with Dundee Precious Metals and Weatherly Minerals have set aside N$6.8m for the establishment of a science University.
The University, which will offer special science subjects, is also expected to assist with skills development for the surrounding mines as a way of boosting the economy of Tsumeb town.
So far, Namibia only has three institutions of higher learning, University of Namibia (UNAM), Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) and Namibia Institutes of Mining and Technology (NIMT), which offer the special science subjects needed in the local mining and energy industry.
 However, not all regions have access to the abovementioned institutions, the Polytechnic only has one campus which is based in the capital city and small centres that are based in some regions like Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto and five other regions. The University of Namibia is also not found in all regions, similarly to NIMT which is only running three campuses in Arandis, Keetmanshoop and Tsumeb.
Apart from the lack of science-centred institution of higher education in Namibia, it has been reported that two of the above-mentioned institutions are not producing productive students who are employable in these markets because only gain theories but lack practical experience that is needed in public market. Additionally, reports from a few years ago purported that the majority of academic and research staff at UNAM have Master’s and doctorate degrees, whereas PoN had the majority of its staff holding undergraduate degrees as their highest qualification.
About 41 000 pupils completed high school in the year 2010, of which 26 612 students applied for undergraduate studies to UNAM and PoN. A third of these students are qualified but could not be admitted due to a lack of space.
The prospective construction of a science institution will cater for students who continuously cross borders into South Africa and elsewhere to gain access to higher education. There is also a demand for specialists in the science field in Namibia. The need to construct a new science-centred tertiary institution follows demand specifically from the mining and energy sector for qualified professionals.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Dr. David Namwandi, said he was not aware of the planned construction of the new University unless the PR was informed ‘’I would not be able to pronounce myself until I have been informed. I am under the impression that the Ministry was supposed to be briefed unless it was briefed through others, until then, I have no comment’’.