• August 5th, 2020

First year tertiary students – register for appropriate programmes from the beginning

Today, I want to address the dilemma first year students have as they choose their programmes at tertiary level. But, before I do that, let me make a few remarks on the current, contentious issue of the poor English pass rate. Over the past few weeks, the nation has been bemoaning the poor English pass rate of 2019 Ordinary level students. While people were and are entitled to their opinions and suggestions on this issue and other education-related issues – and I respect that. My considered advice is that we should not lose hope on this subject as a nation.  

The forthcoming conference on English will definitely come up with practical actions that will improve the English pass rate in this country. I have a strong conviction that this is not an insurmountable task, given the fact that we have English specialists in this country. Another reason that gives me hope is that our learners are normal learners who react to syllabuses that we give them like other learners in other parts of the world. Their results highly reflect what we teach them. This is why we have learners in Namibia who passed the 2019 examinations with 35 points; others got 50 points and above. This is very impressive and that is why I say we must not lose hope over the poor pass rate in English. Of course, all stakeholders must join hands and improve our courses without delay, and without playing the blame game.  While it will be profitable to call a spade a spade so that we do not repeat mistakes of the past, we need to attend the English conference with sober minds in order to offer practical suggestions that will – as I see it – definitely uplift the standard of English in this country. They say where there is a will, there is always a way. The will is there and ways of ameliorating the conundrum will be found.

Now, to first year tertiary students in the country. Higher education institutions in the country are a hive of activity now up to the first week of February when classes start. New and returning students are registering for their degree programmes and modules, respectively. New students who register for certificates, diplomas and degree programmes often find the exercise of registering for the right programme daunting and confusing. 

The predicament first year students face as they get into tertiary education is that of lack of proper guidance on which programmes to take. This problem starts at high school level where there are few or no systematic career guidance programmes that prepare learners for university education. Although some higher education institutions mount road shows in the regions where they advertise their programmes and engage learners, many schools are left out in such awareness campaigns. Even the adverts that higher education institutions placed in the local media do not help much, as many schools do not get this information. So, when the students chose programmes to study, they have little information about exactly what they want to study. Experience has proved to me that most students want to enrol into law, teaching, medicine, social work, psychology and nursing degree programmes. This is despite the fact that many of them do not qualify to get into these programmes. 

What worsens the situation is that some students’ parents and guardians choose programmes for them. When students are forced into these programmes, they do not perform optimally. Without much consideration, other students follow the choices of their high school friends or their siblings who have been at tertiary education level. Peer pressure also accounts for the wrong choice of programmes. When these scenarios take place, the results are usually disastrous along the way. Some students fail to proceed to the next level of their programme, mainly because they chose the wrong programme. Studies have shown that local higher education institutions have low student success and retention rates annually. One of the main factors contributing to these dismal rates is lack of proper guidance as to which programme to enrol into at first year level. This is why some students take five or six or seven years to complete a four-year degree programme. Taking longer periods than necessary is a waste of time and resources. Students who fall in this category automatically lose their funding, bursaries and scholarships.

So, what should first-year tertiary education students do?  Here are some tips. Get it right from the beginning and you will never go wrong. To make the right choice, consult discipline specialists or faculty officers from the institution; they are tasked with the duty of guiding students. These officials are present during this registration period; they will give you proper guidance on which courses to enrol in, and which subject combinations are proper in a degree programme in their faculties. Never send someone to get the information for you; get it yourself. Do not be a victim of information coming from the grape vine because it is usually twisted. Choose a programme you have a passion for – even if it is not what your parents or guardians recommend. Your friend’s choice is not necessarily good for you. Listen to yourself and be guided by the subjects you passed well at high school. If you register for an appropriate programme that matches well with the subjects you passed at high school, you will most likely complete your degree programme within the stipulated time. 

If in doubt of anything related to the registration of your programme, ask for the head of department or the dean of the faculty under which your programme falls. Make the hay while the sun shines; don’t keep your problem until it is too late. Best wishes in your studies!

Professor Jairos Kangira is the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Namibia. He writes on his own accord. Please send comments to: kjairos@gmail.com

Staff Reporter
2020-01-24 07:49:20 | 6 months ago

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