Unam Due for Commission of Inquiry?

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If the latest case of theft or attempted theft of computers by a Pro-Vice-Chancellor and an IT Manager at the University of Namibia is true, then we have crossed the boundaries of what is tolerable. The beast is now totally sick. The body has been sick for quite some time as we all know. And now the head is also sick. And the sooner we move to save the situation the better for the institution and the country as a whole. This consistent misuse of public trust and public resources at Unam must not be allowed to continue. We say: enough is enough. I therefore, humbly, call upon the PM, Cde Nahas Angula, as a matter of urgency, to set up a very elaborate commission of inquiry to look into all aspects of Unam governance, culture and institutional set-up. Here are some of the issues for such an inquiry: – Fly-by-night professors – people who are accorded professorships overnight without having produced any credible piece of academic work or having taught for an x-number of years or presenting an inaugural lecture. Most of the promotions are meant to justify a salary increase not academic achievement. – People claiming false qualifications or teaching with forged academic papers. I personally know of one person who went to the UK with a high school diploma only to return back after two years of study with both a BA and MA from a university there ( this is a widespread problem in the civil service in Namibia). – Non-Namibians who go to study under the cover of staff development programmes and never return to benefit Unam or the country (I know of one specific case here and I’m sure there are many others). – Nepotism – employing relatives or giving relatives disproportionate opportunities in terms of bursaries or refresher courses abroad. I know of one lecturer who has spent more time in the USA, UK and Europe trying to finish a PhD than she has at Unam. – Vacancies that are hardly advertised. For example, when last did you see vacancies being advertised on the Unam website? This is a far cry from the situation at the Polytechnic where vacancies are openly and regularly advertised both in print and on their website. – The proliferation of centres and institutes, all man-ned by directors and deputies, some of them with over-lapping missions either with each other or faculties and departments. – Then there is the perennial problem of theft whether it is money, exams papers or equipment. In the 1990s, a visiting researcher vanished with Unam’s laptop after the end of his contract. Never to be traced again. I suggest here that people coming to Unam, especially foreigners, must undergo some form of background checks including the validity of their qualifications. This would be an unfortunate move especially on the part of those foreigners genuinely interested in academic pursuits. But there is no other option. – Then there is the issue of people working for and from Unam – people who spend a lot of time doing private consultancies and running their private businesses from Unam, using its resources – telephones, photo-copiers, computers and research assistants without a single penny going to the university’s coffers. – Issues of gender balance or lack of it in the management structure of the university need to be looked into as well. This is the least we can do to save the reputation of the country’s highest institution of learning. We all want to be proud of it and I assume its students and graduates do as well. Alex T. Kaure Liberia, West Africa

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