WINDHOEK – Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba says the growing demand for tertiary education in Namibia has surpassed the expectations of public tertiary institutions.
Therefore, he said, a private university such as the International Universty of Management (IUM) is fulfilling an essential and patriotic role by widening the horizons of tertiary education to a rapidly increasing student population of local and international students.
Pohamba made the remarks last Friday at the 14th IUM graduation ceremony where about 2 800 students graduated in various fields.
The current IUM student population is above 10 000 with some of the students coming from South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi, Mozambiqiue, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, and it has opened regional offices in Botswana and Malawi.
According to the 2018 League Table of the top 200 universities in Africa by uniRank, IUM is ranked as the 61st most popular university in Africa where there are hundreds of universities.
“IUM has over the years developed into a world class university that continues to expand in terms of student population, infrastructure and academic programmes development. I am aware that work is currently underway to build a multimillion-dollar student accommodation facility at the main campus in Dorado Park, which I am informed will cater for not less than 2 500 students,” Pohamba said. He added IUM has since its establishment contributed to the socio-economic well-being of the nation by ensuring that Namibia has a pool of adequately trained personnel.
He noted that by equipping these hundreds of young men and women with knowledge and skills, the university is indisputably complementing government in the provision of quality tertiary education and by implication contributing to the attainment of the national goals.
Pohamba noted with great appreciation that IUM has signed an agreement of cooperation with the Universty of Namibia (Unam) in the area of curriculum, research, innovation and technological development. He said synergy is strength and such partnerships are therefore highly commendable.
He emphasised that public and private tertiary institutions must be encouraged to work together to strengthen their capacities, especially on research so that they do not only understand the demand of the market, but also to understand the various challenges facing the country.
“These institutions will then be able to produce graduates who will work to find solutions to these challenges,” he said. He said one of the aspects that made the ceremony extraordinary is the conferring of the pioneers of the four-year Bachelor Degree of Nursing Honours.
This, he says, is plausible because recent national workload indicators point out serious disproportions in the distribution of healthcare workers to patient ratio across the country, thereby hampering the provision of quality healthcare to the people.
Nursing, especially midwifery, Pohamba noted, plays a critical role toward the achievement of the third Sustainable Development Goal (SDG3) of the United Nations Development Programme, which is aimed at reducing child and maternal mortality and promoting universal health coverage.
“Today, IUM has become part of the few tertiary institutions in Namibia that produce health professionals. You have entered a demanding profession and accepted the challenges that come with it. Nursing is a profession that requires dedication, compassion and a high degree of professionalism. I have no doubt that the university prepared you well for this task,” he said.
The programme was launched for the first time in 2014.
IUM founder Dr David Namwandi said he vividly recalls when the then health minister Dr Richard Kamwi wrote a letter inviting IUM to mount nursing programmes in order to assist in addressing the shortfall of nursing professionals in the country.
“While that was a foreign idea to us at the time, with the help of professionals and healthcare gurus who heard the clarion call, today, four years later, we witnessed the first cohort of IUM nursing students taking the oath on Wednesday evening after successfully completing their course. And today we witness them graduating. Truly this is a milestone for IUM and a great achievement for the nursing graduands,” he said.
Pohamba reminded graduates that the society is faced with many pressing issues such as unemployment and high poverty levels. Hence, he encouraged those who have entrepreneurial skills and business minds to go and create jobs for themselves and for others.