Allow me space in your valued newspaper to state my observation on the status of Science, Technology, and Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in our beloved country Namibia.
The Namibian situation regarding the status of STEM capabilities has kept me wondering for some time.
The relevance of emphasising science and mathematics related subjects in Namibia seem to have been overrated.
Students who manage to get themselves into pursuit of such courses, tend to regret the outcome of their efforts at the end of their study.
Many of the young people, graduate from local universities such as Unam and Nust.
Their joy of graduation, and the excitement to overcome the difficulties of their studies, is usually overshadowed by circumstances such as being unemployed science graduates or employed by barely recognised companies which may retrench them even before they start forgetting their classroom sweat.
Although, the lucky few, may be absorbed by the promising job opportunities, it remains a challenge for many.
According to the United Nations World Population Prospects, Africa holds nearly 17% of the world’s population, its Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics capabilities fall behind the rest of the world.
STEM education is a driver of economic performance and it is essential for helping growing economies compete in the global market to create jobs and improve wealth.
The most practical example is that of the Bachelors of Science graduates, particularly in Micro- Biology. These graduates usually end up roaming the streets or maybe if they are lucky, they are hired as temporally teachers in science subjects or mathematics.
This has never been their dream at all but it becomes the most available.
Many times, these opportunities are taken as jobs and not careers, which may in turn compromise the quality of teaching and learning. These people are academically qualified in some subjects.
However, they need to be professionally qualified as teachers to effectively interact with the subject content.
Namibia, like other countries in Africa, has the potential to capacitate individuals into STEM.
However, those that are skilled often immigrate to other countries to earn their livelihoods in a phenomenon known as “brain drain.”
Each year, professionals make this exodus.
Brain drain diminishes the development of industries which need highly educated nationals.
Due to the lack of a domestic workforce, most of the jobs in Namibia today are outsourced from other countries such as China and India.
This harsh reality cannot be disputed because China has a large workforce of engineers, which makes China’s strong presence in the development of projects in Africa. If Namibia aims to realise the sustainable goals and the objectives of vision 2030, it is time that consideration into aspects that propels independent industrialisation is made priority.