Namibia Underperforms in Research

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK The country needs to improve on its research ability if it wants to keep up with the demands of a knowledge-based economy. This is one area where the country has been under-performing, with hardly any research being done at tertiary level. Professor Andre du Pisani of the University of Namibia said in order to remedy the situation, a proper research policy needs to be established and implemented if Namibia is to respond to the demands of a knowledge economy. The Unam professor said the country lacks incentives to recognise the little research being carried out. Du Pisani was addressing delegates at a workshop to evaluate the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP) yesterday. With regard to Unam, he said, the institution was being constrained by funding resulting in Unam not being able to fully implement its research policy. There is a need to build research capacity in all training institutions and not only at Unam or the Polytechnic of Namibia, he recommended. Pre-appraisal of the ETSIP, a 15-year strategic plan of the Ministry of Education, started on Monday already, bringing together all stakeholders in the education sectors in particular and development partners to advise Government on critical areas that require further improvement. Professor Ray Auala also from Unam urged the Ministry of Education together with the National Planning Commission (NPC) to indicate areas where research is needed and forward to training institutions. He called for professional standards for the teaching profession, such as licences for teachers whereby if they are not performing, the license could expire. “This should also apply to principals. Principals can no longer be principals for life (unlike in the past), but only based on their performance,” he stated. Speaking at the opening on Monday, Education Minister Nangolo Mbumba could hardly hide his contentment to present the long awaited ETSIP for evaluation. He said the education and training sector has been at the centre of national dialogue in the last few months and the latter was aimed at addressing weaknesses in the sector. “I want to recognise the enduring inputs of all of you, our development partners, and indeed all stakeholders in education and training which have been crucial in shaping these outputs,” he stated. He expressed gratitude to the Word Bank (WB) for its generous and sustained technical support. An updated version of the ETSIP Programme document would be distributed before the round-table pledging conference planned for 19 and 20 April 2006.