By Marianne Nghidengwa
THE Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation has placed education, agriculture, actuarial sciences and forensic pathology to name a few as top funding priority fields of study for 2017, a move feared to shortchange private colleges that do not offer such programmes.
The list of 2017 priority fields of study in Confidente’s possession, was also sent to the Namibian Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) that provides financial assistance to students to help them study or do research in prescribed courses or fields of study at approved tertiary institutions.
At the top of the list is education (Early Childhood, Science Education – Mathematics and Physical Science as well as Secondary education); agriculture (veterinary sciences, food science and technology); actuarial sciences; forensic pathology; health science (pediatrics surgery, pathology); indigenous knowledge; tourism management as well as hydrology and water management.
Medium priority fields include engineering (mechanical, electrical, electronic, civil and structural, mining, computing and communications); computer sciences and technology (satellite science and technologies, software design and development, data management and cyber-security); land management and surveying; management sciences (chartered financial accounting, operational and strategic management, governance and leadership), tourism and hospitality; health sciences (pharmacy, nursing, allied health science); psychology and social work. Those considered low priority studies of field include law, valuation, environmental sciences, sport sciences including coaching and physical education, forestry, office administration, public administration/management (personal or human resources management), travel guides, chemical sciences, urban and rural planning, finance and accounting, disaster management and climate research. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education, Alfred van Kent while confirming the list explained that the ministry is in process of setting up a training unit to help determine other fields.
“We are relatively a new ministry so we are still in the process of setting up a unit for training that will help us establish other equally important fields of study. That is not the final list, it needs to be updated. Currently, we are focusing on coming up with ways to monitor other fields in demand,” Van Kent explained.
Meanwhile, NSFAF board chairperson Patty Karuaihe-Martin said that the parastatal normally gets the list from the education ministry which helps them develop their own list of prioritised fields to fund.
“Our high priority fields for funding must be in agreement with what the ministry says. Although various fields get financial funding, the only difference is that the low priority fields get loans instead of grants that is normally awarded to students studying high priority fields.”
Experts say that reasons why Government is prioritising funding agriculture related studies mainly has to do with securing food safety as the country is heavily reliant on food imports. Recently, President Hage Geingob launched Operation Tulongeni 2017 in the Omusati region, an initiative aimed at encouraging farmers to work hard to ensure food security. ‘Tulongeni’ is an Oshiwambo word for ‘Let’s Work’. The initiative is a brainchild of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry together with the Omusati Regional Council aimed at further motivating farmers to engage in serious land cultivation, as good rain is predicted this rainy season as well as rural farmers to make use of their farming equipment subsidised by the Government
“Last year was the year of implementation, but this is a year of hard work,” said Geingob at the launch.
As for education, experts say that there is a lot of room for improvement after mass failure of learners at national examinations for grades 10 and 12 was linked to various factors including mostly the lack of teachers. The Education, Arts and Culture Ministry in 2016 advertised 2 889 teaching positions across the 14 regions of the country. The ministry’s permanent secretary, Sanet Steenkamp said the situation is very critical, as close to 4 208 teachers are under- and unqualified.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015