ORIENTATION OF THIS STUDY
Namibia was initially a colony of Germany (1885-1915) and then a colony of the government of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) until 1990, before it became independent on 21 March 1990 after a protracted liberation struggle (1966-1989) (IndexMundi, 2017)
Opportunities to obtain higher learning prior to 1979/1980 for the then people of SWA were only available in the RSA or abroad. The duration of primary education in Namibia is seven years and secondary education is five years. Today primary and secondary education are fully funded by GRN in public schools (Namibia Broadcasting Corporation, 2017). Students who qualify and want to pursue higher learning qualify for grants from the GRN for tertiary education, locally and internationally under the following conditions: prospective students should qualify for admission at a higher learning tertiary institution with a minimum of 25 credit points in their five best subjects (including English) in their grade 12 year final examination or qualify under mature age entry scheme and prove that their parents/guardians’ source of income does not exceed $54 945.80 per annum (Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund, 2017).
The GRN since independence in 1990, spends between 20 to 33% of its National Budget on Education (Republic of Namibia, 2015). The fact that the largest percentage of the national budget is allocated to education underlines the GRN’s vision to reduce illiteracy and inequality. The fundamental question is: Does the lion’s share of the National Budget, 27 years after independence, earmarked to education by the GRN deliver the desired results?
From independence in 1990 until 2015 Namibia’s education at primary, secondary and tertiary education came under The Ministry of Education (Education Act of 2001). In 2016 the Ministry of Education was divided into two ministries: The Ministry of Education and The Ministry of Higher Education, Innovation and Training. The Ministry of Education supervises primary and secondary education (grade 1 to 12) whilst tertiary education and vocational training were placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Higher Education (Higher Education Act of 2003).
In the early 1980’s the Academy, as the first higher learning institution in Namibia, was established (Academy for Tertiary Education Act of 1980). The courses offered by the Academy were limited to teacher training and secretarial courses only. In 1985, another act of the Academy (Academy for Tertiary Education Act of 1985) was published to authorise the Academy to establish a university, a Technicon and a College for Out-of-School Training (COST). Education, Science, Nursing, Social Science and Commerce degrees and diplomas were offered by the University component. The Technicon component offered 17 diplomas and various certificate courses. The diplomas and certificates offered included the following disciplines: Agriculture and Nature Conservation, Personnel Management, Public Administration, Cost Accounting, Secretarial Training and Communication and Legal Training. COST offered 13 certificates in commercial, technical, educational and general qualifications (Keyter, 2002).
After the independence of Namibia in March 1990, the Presidential Commission on Higher Education (known as the Turner Report) recommended that those three institutions established under the umbrella of the Academy for Tertiary Education be abolished and that two independent institutions of higher learning to be established (Keyter, 2002). The two institutions of higher learning were UNAM and the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN). UNAM came into existence in 1992 by virtue of the University of Namibia Act of 1992. The other two components of the Academy for Tertiary Education, namely the Technicon and COST, remained and were placed under the oversight of UNAM (Keyter, 2002). In 1994, the Polytechnic of Namibia Act of 1994 was proclaimed by virtue of which the Technicon of Namibia and COST became Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) (Polytechnic of Namibia Act of 1994). This act provided for the gradual phasing out of vocational training courses and gave PoN the mandate to offer degree programmes (Polytechnic of Namibia Act of 1994).
1. 2.1 Historical overview of the University of Namibia
In August 1992, UNAM was established as an independent public institution of higher learning in Namibia (University of Namibia Act of 1992). UNAM’s main campus moved to the campus of the former Windhoek College of Education in Pioneers Park in Windhoek. Prior to independence, the Windhoek College of Education catered for the training of white teachers only. The first Chancellor of the University of Namibia was the Founding President of Namibia. The position is a titular position, which means that the Chancellor is not involved in the day to day functioning of the institution. The current Vice-Chancellor, is the second vice-chancellor since UNAM’s establishment in 1992.
The Council according to the University of Namibia Act of 1992 consists of the following members: the Vice-Chancellor, the Pro-Vice-Chancellors, Presidential appointments that may not be more than six, four members from Senate, two members from the alumni, the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Finance and Education, one member of the administrative staff, one person from the City of Windhoek, two non-Namibian residents and two members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) (University of Namibia Act, 1992). The Vice-Chancellor is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and is in charge of the academic and administrative affairs of the institution. The Council, according to the University of Namibia Act of 1992, appoints a person or persons as Pro Vice-Chancellors, the Bursar, the Chief Librarian and the Registrar.
The Vision of UNAM is “to be a beacon of excellence and innovation in teaching, research and extension service” and the Mission is “To provide quality higher education through teaching, research and advisory services to our customers with the view to produce productive and competitive human resources capable of driving public and private institutions towards a knowledge-based economy, economic growth and improved quality of life”(University of Namibia, 2017). To ensure that the university upholds its vision and mission it guarantees that its operations are guided by the following qualities professionalism, mutual respect, integrity, transparency, equity and accountability). The institution has shown exponential growth since 1992. The question is whether UNAM upholds the mandate that is embedded in the University of Namibia Act of 1992 and its vision and mission (University of Namibia, 2017).
Since its establishment in 1992, UNAM has shown exponential growth in the number of student enrolment and its staff complement. Table 1.1 below shows the growth in the number of student enrolment and the staff complements for the period 2011 to 2015. Can the significant increase in the numbers of students and staff at UNAM be an indication that this public institution meets the expectations of the GRN and the people of Namibia at large?