By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The Head of State on Saturday registered his profound disappointment with the dishonesty and theft that had occurred in recent times at the University of Namibia. President Hifikepunye Pohamba delivered the keynote address at the 14th annual graduation ceremony of Unam at a local hotel. “I wish to express my disappointment with the recent reported events of dishonesty and alleged theft that is said to have taken place at our university. Such incidents give a bad name to an institution which should be at the forefront to promote ethical behaviour,” said President Pohamba to the large audience of graduands, university staff and parents of students. A total of 1 371 students from Namibia, Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, the United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe graduated on Saturday. “I urge the university to always guard against such negative practices and to ensure that high standards of professionalism and excellence are maintained. This is the only way the university can live up to its mandate of moulding our youth into responsible citizens,” the President urged. Pohamba also encouraged the university to continue with its noble task of training Namibians to equip them with skills and competencies that can enable them to contribute to national development efforts. “Our country has made notable progress in the education sector over the years, but many challenges remain such as the shortage of a critical mass of professionals in various fields. As a result progress on some fronts of socioeconomic development and the implementation of our priorities have been affected negatively,” the Head of State said. The President specifically alluded to the fact that many high school graduates who do not posses a strong foundation in the most important subjects such as mathematics, science and English need urgent attention. “I am therefore pleased that Unam has introduced a foundation course, aimed at helping our high school graduates to improve their performances in mathematics and science subjects. I am informed that the pilot phase of this project that was implemented last year achieved a passing rate of 90%. This is a commendable passing rate particularly in view of the fact that Unam is planning to expand this programme,” he said. In the president’s view the provision of quality education relevant to the needs of the country is a decisive element in our efforts to transform the Namibian society and develop the country socially and economically. “It is not enough to give our people basic literacy and numeracy. We must also endeavour to equip them with skills, capacities and competencies through education and vocational training. Therefore, we must ensure that our education system is well-integrated and geared to produce academically proficient learners and students at every stage, from primary through secondary to tertiary education,” Pohamba asserted. The Government’s ETSIP programme has identified the setting of standards for the teaching profession and the improvement of teacher education as two critical areas. “We expect Unam to contribute meaningfully to the implementation of ETSIP. It is also expected that the university take the lead in providing professional and academic support for other key areas in ETSIP such as early childhood education, ICT in schools and the integration of HIV/AIDS awareness in all the education programmes,” said Pohamba, who advised against the duplicating of available resources. He also expressed the hope that the ETSIP programme of reform will not only be limited to the education sector alone. “ETSIP will also affect our society in a fundamental manner with respect to addressing issues pertaining to socioeconomic development, reducing income disparities and enabling more Namibians to participate in the mainstream of the economy through hard work, dedication and commitment,” he concluded.