KEETMANSHOOP – The opening of the University of Namibia’s Southern Campus come January 2014 will not just be a campus for students of the southern region, but for all Namibians says Education Minister David Namwandi.
“It is not a campus of the region. It will cater and mould sons and daughters of this land. But equally those that want to pursue studies in the geo-sciences,” explained the Minister of Education. “In comparison to some other countries around the world our higher education enrollment is not something to be proud of. Therefore this expansion of Unam’s wings to the regions could not have come at a better time. It is my hope that this campus will offer education and training in the field that will eventually benefit this region that is so rich in minerals.”
The minister says in doing so Namibia will empower and equip its own people with the highest level of skills, which is imperative for economic growth. He gave a directive from the podium that all higher education institutions in the country should launch academic training programmes that are current, relevant and market related and in line with the country’s national priorities, that are enshrined in the national vision plan, as well as the national development agenda detailed in NDP4.
“Only then, I believe, could we ensure that none of our graduates will join the army of the unemployed. We cannot afford that. But there is a message that I want to send to the nation. It is imperative that we change our mindset. It is imperative that our people understand what freedom is. Freedom is not necessarily always about complaining, but freedom is about doing things and making things happen. I find it very difficult to believe and accept that a country with 2,2 million people has the percentage of unemployment we have,” he stressed. Namwandi said Namibia cannot afford to be satisfied with 20 or 25 percent unemployment. “As far as I’m concerned that is a time bomb. Therefore, universities should take the lead to create wealth and jobs for the nation.”
He promised President Hifikepunye Pohamba who was present at the ground-breaking ceremony for the envisaged southern campus that economic victory is already proclaimed. President Pohamba told the gathering that the 4th Delimitation Commission was set up to go around the country to delimit the regions and the constituencies of the country.
President Pohamba was also the first citizen to pledge N$10 000 to Unam for the construction of the planned southern campus. “Last year well-wishers from all walks of our society donated money and I saw that money and I established a fund, which will specifically benefit the disadvantaged people in the 14 regions of our republic. I’m making a pledge on behalf of those who are administering the fund and this is one of the institutions that we would like to assist,” he said.
Pohamba further noted that statistics on unemployment in the country are true. “Job creation has to be made [possible] by the people of this country,” he said. Pohamba said if one would go into the history of the country one would see clearly how unemployment came about. “We were denied all those skills. We were deliberately denied (the required skills).”
He said agriculture remains one of the most important sectors of the economy. “Here in this region animal husbandry, especially small stock farming sustains the livelihoods of thousands of people. The expansion of the Naute Irrigation Project and the envisaged construction of the Neckartal Dam will further boost crop production in this region. Therefore it is no doubt that the university is expected to contribute to the growth of the agricultural industry and research and development of this important sector,” said Pohamba who placed the blame for the delays in building the Neckartal Dam on what he referred to as saboteurs.
“I feel bad about it. There are certain people that do not want progress to be made. This is a project that by now if we had started by the time we had decided on it, we could have talked about some months left before it would have been completed. But saboteurs have been doing it with lots of excuses. Yes, we are a country that is being ruled by law and that’s the reason for the delays. They know where to go and they know that we won’t interfere, because of our principles and being a country that is governed through the rule of law,” he said.