By Frederick Philander
“I am keenly aware of the skills that Namibia needs to be successful in our development as a nation. If we are to reach the goals set for Vision 2030, we need our top scholars to excel and to bring back knowledge to use in building our great nation.”
So said minister of Education Nangolo Mbumba on Tuesday evening at an introductory dinner of seven Namibians who received bursaries to study in the Fulbright and Humphrey programs in the United States.
“We need teachers, especially teachers of English who know the latest and the best techniques to use with our learners. We also need you to return to Namibia and share that knowledge with your colleagues who have not had the privilege of studying in the United States. We need you to teach the next generation of teachers and build their capacity, so that this investment in you will multiply,” Mbumba said.
He also challenged the selected group of academics to work hard and learn a great deal so that they train the next generation in English.
“We also need engineers, computer scientists and economists. Not only do we need you in the academic world, but we need you in the public service and business world, as well, if we are to meet our goals for economic growth and our goal of becoming a knowledge-based society,” the minister said.
“As a nation, we have many goals and not all of them are related to the material development of our nation.
“We are a democracy. As a nation that struggled for independence, as a democracy, we must also guard the rights and responsibilities of our citizens. The Fulbright and Humphrey programs are not just academic in nature. They are meant to expand your knowledge of the United States and also for you to introduce Namibia to the Americans you meet,” he said.
“I see many Namibians who have profited studying in the Fulbright and Humphrey programs and now lead the nation.
“We are thankful for the support from the United States Government in providing these scholarships. But let me remind you, that like any program, what you get out of it depends on what you put in. Namibia has great expectations of you. You are Namibia’s brightest lights and have been accepted into a program that is world-renowned.
You are among the best in the world. You have made the nation proud,” he said. According to the American ambassador, Dennise Mathieu, this is the largest group of Namibian Fellows in the history of the country.
“In the past, the US Embassy has only been able to fund two to three Fulbright scholars and one to two Humphrey Fellows to study in the United States.
This year, however, we have six Fulbright Fellows, including Namibia’s first-ever Ph.D. Science and Technology Fellow, and one Humphrey. This is an outstanding achievement and you are all to be congratulated,” said Mathieu at the same occasion.
“You join an illustrious group of Namibians who are alumni of American universities and professional exchange programs. They include current and former prime ministers, deputy prime ministers, ministers, members of parliament, ambassadors, a high court judge, academic leaders, media leaders and captains of industry,” she said.
The Fulbright program – named after the late Senator J. William Fulbright – was established by the US Congress in 1946 to “enable the Government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries” .
“Fulbright strongly believed in the power of international education and exchange, and the program has provided more than 255 000 participants – chosen for their leadership potential?