By William Mbangula
Nigeria will soon send mathematics and physical science teachers and senior lecturers to Namibia as part of their contribution to enhance the operational capacity of the envisaged Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology of the University of Namibia (Unam).
This was revealed by the Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia, Prince Adegboyega Ariyo, during the ground-breaking ceremony of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology by the Father of the Nation and Chancellor of Unam Dr Sam Nujoma last Saturday.
“One of the critical areas of support is the preparation of the necessary students who would use the facility to be constructed here. We are happy to announce that about 160 Nigerian teachers of mathematics and physical science will be in Namibia before the commencement of the next academic year.
“Our engagement will not stop at the secondary education level, though it is very critical, and we are also utilizing the existing facility to send some senior lecturers to Unam to prepare those Namibian post-graduate students to pass on the torch of knowledge to others. “We sincerely believe that this effort should have the desired positive effects on the human resource development of Namibia and will reduce her dependency on outside assistance.”
Hailing the event as a significant milestone in the advancement of knowledge in Namibia, Ariyo said education is the key to nation-building. It is the software for national development and a key for orderly political, economic, social, cultural development as well as a thriving democratic enterprise without which proper focus on education, the nation can perish.
The Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Helmut Angula advised Unam to incorporate new and emerging concepts in engineering to attract bilateral as well as multilateral support.
The most important and attractive topics he mentioned are climate change, green and renewable energy. Angula said Namibia needs mechanical, industrial, chemical engineers to develop its manufacturing, production, processing, pharmaceutical and food industries. The country needs civil and structural engineers to expand its road infrastructure, construct new buildings, bridges, airports, harbours and many others.
Again the country needs electrical, electronic, and computer engineers for electric power generation, power distribution, telecommunication industries and information and communication technology development.
According to Angula, the exploitation and beneficiation of the fast mineral resources in Namibia needs a team of dedicated mining and metallurgical engineers. The training of Namibians in the various engineering disciplines is necessary for the realization of Vision 2030.
“I am reliably informed that the current number of professional engineers registered with the Engineering Council of Namibia is only 320. Another 150 potential engineers are still undergoing professional training. Even if we were to combine these figures, we are talking of a total of only 470 engineers for the whole of Namibia.
“Worse still, all these engineers received their training abroad. Surely, unless drastic measures are taken now, Namibia will not have sufficient human resource capacity to implement Vision 2030.
“One may then pose the question as for how long should Namibia wait before it starts training its own professional engineers right here in Namibia. The answer to this question is that we have waited for too long and the fact remains, that a fully fledged faculty of engineering is long overdue in Namibia.”
The NPC chief advised that for the faculty to succeed and become sustainable, the stakeholders must devise incentives to attract students to the field. Such incentives must be real, for example differentiated subsidies based on the socio-economic situation of the applicant, for a specific portion of the course and determined length of time.
He commended Unam for its cooperation with the Transfer Centre for Appropriate Technologies in Germany, which should be encouraged based on the Private Public Partnership (PPP) for it can contribute meaningfully to the national economy. He pledged full support from the NPC once the centre is established.