By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The Management Council of the Polytechnic of Namibia on Saturday lodged an urgent public appeal to the Namibian government for more funds, as well as a name change for the tertiary institution. The Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia, dr Tjama Tjivikua, in welcoming the guests at Saturday’s 11th graduation ceremony, emphasised education as the backbone of human and economic development. “Unfortunately development in Namibia isn’t an epidemic. It hasn’t caught on like wildfire because the key ingredients of success haven’t crossed the threshold, simply because growth hasn’t tipped and there isn’t enough momentum and our collective efforts haven’t converged properly. Somehow the correct set of rules of innovation has been misplaced,” Tjivikua said. In his opinion the success rate of the education system in the country is a mere 10 percent. “The fact that education receives 27 percent of the national budget, yet 50 percent Grade 10s failed and only 20 percent of Grade 12 learners qualified for universities is indicative of our low success rate in the school system. These facts show us that we are over-investing or ‘mis-investing’ or wasting in education, the foundation of development. Namibia suffers from a collective delusion, if we believe, based on the size of public spending on education, that we are building a dynamic knowledge economy. We must realise that public funding alone is not the panacea for educational success,” Tjivikua stated. According to the Rector, his institution is still being confronted with financial and infrastructural resource challenges. “Our performance has only been limited by the scarcity of resources, lack of a scientific public funding system and bureaucracy, not because of lack of will and creativity. Novelty without proper resources is a dream deferred; it floats and eventually drowns in malady. Accordingly I challenge government and industry to show strong support to education,” he said. Transformation has been on the Polytechnic’s agenda since inception. “It is now time to rename the institute as Namibia’s University of Science and Technology. The global trends have shifted and the name of such an important institution is as influential as the qualifications it offers. We must have the will and courage to change things for the better all the time,” Tjivikua urged. In her speech the chairperson of the Polytechnic of Namibia’s Council, Reverend Nangula Kathindi was more direct in her plea for more funding for the tertiary institution. “The successes achieved by the Polytechnic of Namibia have taken place within standards of governance that I venture to say can be held up as a model to both public and private sector institutions. Corruption is not tolerated at any level and our systems and controls are effective in identifying any such tendencies and bringing the perpetrators to book. We can account for every cent spent,” Kathindi said. Her institution could and should have achieved much more if there had been an equitable formula for the allocation of public funds and support for it within the higher education sector. “My council appeals to the government to rationalise funding in higher education as a matter of urgency. This would bring an element of predictability into our budgeting and eliminate the unseemly annual round of fighting to obtain a shrinking slice of the education budget allocation. It is not possible to build research and innovation without the right human capacity, funding and support,” she said. “We need to support our universities with the same fervour, energy and urgency we pay to other matters and institutions. Namibia cannot crawl into developed status. We must leapfrog into the competitive, globalised world of the 21st century. I humbly urge the government to support us with equitable funding and the reduction of bureaucratic hindrances to our work,” Kathindi urged.
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