It is a well-known fact that Namibia, upon independence, had very few higher education programmes in the fields of mathematics, science and technology. It has become a truism for many stakeholders to maintain that this still remains the case more than 20 years since. It is then perhaps the appropriate time for the higher education sector to examine this truism, and the Polytechnic’s contribution to these scarce fields is a good place to start. The Polytechnic of Namibia is one of the higher education institutions that have worked hard to develop programmes, leading to NQO registered qualifications (certificates, diplomas and degrees), in these scarce fields.
If one considers the Polytechnic’s academic programmes, enrolment and graduation figures for the decade 2001 – 2011 it reveals the following:
• In 2001, the Polytechnic had five programmes based on mathematics, science and technology, and a total of 1 004 students, 360 female and 644 male, were enrolled in these five programmes for that year.
• In 2011, the Polytechnic had more than doubled the number of academic programmes based on mathematics, science and technology to 14, including six programmes leading to degrees suitable for professional registration.
These are accounting, engineering, both technology and professional, biomedical sciences, environmental health sciences, surveying and architecture.
• In the 2011 academic year a total of 5 216 students, 2 793 female and 2 423 male, were enrolled in these 14 programmes.
• The total enrolment at the Polytechnic for the period 2001 to 2011 in mathematics and science-and-technology-based programmes was 31 338.
• On the output side (in terms of graduation of diplomas and degrees only), the Polytechnic has provided 6 959 graduates in scarce fields over the period 2001 to 2011. Of these, 3 211 were female and 3 748 male.
In 2012 the Polytechnic made history as the Institution graduated the first cohort of locally trained biomedical and environmental health professionals. This is a first for Namibia as these qualifications were previously only offered by higher education institutions outside the country. Not only is the Polytechnic continuously introducing new programmes to address the country’s critical skills shortage on an ongoing basis, but these new programmes are driven by excellence from the outset.
This much was evident when Namibia recently won the Silver Pigeon Award for the best national contribution at the International Architecture and Design Showcase at the 2012 London Festival of Architecture. The Polytechnic’s Architecture Department was tasked with the overall development and production of the Namibian exhibition, which walked away with top honours placing both Namibia and the Institution on the international architecture map. In 2013 the Polytechnic will again introduce additional new programmes in more of these scarce fields while enrolments in the Business and Humanities faculties will be capped as they have been for a number of years.
These efforts are driving Namibia forward to the goal of providing the scarce skills so desperately needed by the economy. These skills will enable the Namibian economy to engage in value-addition activities in the effort to realise Vision 2030.
Namibia needs all its high school graduates, especially those with strong performance in mathematics, science and English to remain in the country and to enrol with higher education institutions to make these new programmes more viable. Become part of this special effort to drive Namibia towards Vision 2030, and enter into an exciting world of opportunity which is the Polytechnic of Namibia.