Scholarship Programme Benefits Namibians

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Fifty-one Namibian students have benefited from Government’s ongoing Scholarship and Training Programme after successfully completing their tertiary education in various countries. The beneficiaries went for further study in South Africa, the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) and the Netherlands. With assistance from the Africa-American Institute (AII) based in New York, the United States, the Government has over the past 15 years spent US$1million in sponsoring Namibians to study for postgraduate degrees and undertake research studies, in its drive to boost the country’s human resources capacity. Their courses ranged from technical agriculture, wildlife management, crop science and paediatrics to food science, financial management, medical science and clinical psychology, among others. The President and Chief Executive Officer of the African-American Institute Mora Mclean visited Prime Minister Nahas Angula yesterday, where the importance of such support in a developing country was emphasised. “This will make a great contribution to human resource development in the country,” Angula said, adding it would also go a long way to address unemployment and poverty, while simultaneously creating a skilled and educated nation. The Premier added that Namibians should embrace this programme with the important vision of acquiring skills and knowledge, in order to become globally competitive. Echoing the sentiment, Mclean said that the main focus of the US-based institute since its inception in 1953 is to help African countries exclusively in educating the human capital that is essential for future development. “If you don’t have people with knowledge and skills that can lead to a stronger education system, you are not going to get quality results … our aim is to create stronger higher education systems in Africa,” explained Mclean. Currently, the Ministry of Education coordinates the Human Resources Development Programme (HRDP) that provides these scholarships, while the Bank of Namibia handles the investment aspects. Portfolio managers from New York normally invest the funds for these tertiary studies abroad, of which Namibia is a beneficiary. At one stage, Namibia’s funds stood at US$9 million, but dropped to US$6 million due to the growing number of Namibian students benefiting from the programme. More support from the United States seems likely, as Namibia is one of the countries that have qualified to apply for grants under the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s account. Four years ago, as Minister of Education, Nahas Angula was in the United States to present Namibia’s case to a Congressional Seminar in order to benefit from this grant programme created under the Bush administration. The grant programme under the theme “reducing poverty through growth” is a reward provided to performing developing countries around the world based on investing in people, free market economies and good governance. Now that Namibia has qualified to apply for the Millennium Challenge Account, if approved Namibia would then have to come up with a proposal and a “compact” which is a kind of agreement, will be signed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Namibian government at a later stage. In view of this, US representatives are expected to visit Namibia around February 27 for more in-depth discussions on the issue.