President Hage Geingob is concerned that Namibia has a low percentage of academics with doctoral qualifications, an equally low proportion of investment in research and development and a low level of research and development engagement between academic institutions and industry.
“Consequently, it is not surprising that our innovation thrust is not prominent or dynamic. We need to collectively address these challenges. From the government’s side the policy environment and the resourcing issues are receiving urgent attention, since we are mindful that without sustainable strategic interventions our plans to achieve Vision 2030 will become a deferred dream,” he said.
Geingob made the remarks in a speech delivered on his behalf by Higher Education Minister Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi during the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) 2016 spring graduation ceremony on Friday.
He said there are other areas, particularly in human capital development, that pose a serious challenge and if left unattended are likely to cause delays in the effective implementation of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) and could even lead to social revolt.
In this regard, Kandjii-Murangi together with UNESCO, recently produced a report on the policy review of Namibia’s TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training), which analyses the current situation.
The report recognises the critical role of TVET in supplying skills for the expansion of the economy and, recommends building greater effectiveness and capacity in terms of quantity and quality.
Geingob, himself a PhD holder, said higher education and innovation institutions are faced with many challenges. He further called on new graduates to be part of the great task of building the Namibian nation, saying they have multiple prominent roles to play to assist government to meet its Harambee Prosperity Plan 2020 deadline.
He said one of the components of the plan is youth enterprise development.
In terms of the HPP, youth enterprise development is an important component or the plan and there is a future projection of establishing 121 youth-owned rural enterprises, each permanently employing a minimum of 10 youth by 2020.
NUST on Friday graduated about 900 students in various fields of study.
“I think NUST, as a technological university, is best-placed to help build the necessary capacity that will make these rural enterprises a reality.
“Furthermore, our objective is to create an enabling environment for private sector entrepreneurial start-ups and growth-oriented SMEs, as well as to facilitate the establishment of youth-owned enterprises, through government structures,” Geingob noted.
Despite government’s commitment to ensure graduates are absorbed into the job market, dozens of unemployed graduates took to the streets last week to air their frustration at being jobless after many years of sacrifice, sleepless nights and huge amounts of money spent getting an academic qualification. At least 26 percent of graduates that finish their tertiary education end up unemployed after completion o f their studies, a tracer study conducted by the National Council of Higher Education in 2011 revealed.