Prof Makala Lilemba
Namibia has been regarded as the brainchild of the United Nations, and at the same time hailed as one of the best democracies in the world. That is partly true, despite the fact that it took seven decades for the world body to successfully implement the Independence of the country.
It is equally true that many Namibians traversed and crisscrossed the globe. This could be explained as the reason for acquiring the international flavour in some spheres of life, coupled with the Global Village philosophy which is beneficial to the country. Unfortunately, this trend of events deepens the dependence syndrome on other nationals who are actually on the move or simply passing by.
When they are gone, the country goes back to square one in trying to fill the gaps left by other nationals. It is, therefore, important that the country should prepare itself for the eventuality before it is caught off-guard. In addition, charity begins at home, and Namibia should first take care of her children, like other nations.
The following steps should be done by government and other stakeholders:
Contextualise and internalise quality of TVET curriculum
The education curriculum remains theoretical, despite the promises to change it. Learners are supposed to be streamed into areas of agriculture and vocational training, but many are still being prepared for scarce white-collar jobs. Instead of being channeled into courses which will ultimately usher them into self-employment, graduates from schools are being prepared for comfortable arm-chair jobs in air-conditioned offices.
If the areas of agriculture and vocational courses and training are being well-financed and boosted, surely there will be no need for Namibia to depend on agricultural produce and engineers from neighbouring countries in order to fill the void. In addition to the existing agricultural and vocational centres, places like Berg Aukas and Du Plessis should be improved and that space be used to accommodate other courses and students. The Ministries of Agriculture and Education should go an extra mile and open other agricultural and vocational centres in all regions.
Agricultural, vocational and technical courses ranging from one month to three years should be introduced, which will ultimately lead to self-employment and self-reliance. As long as we underrate these sectors, Namibia will forever depend on other nationals to develop her agricultural and educational infrastructure and other sectors. A country which fails to feed itself is not respected by other nations.
With a lower dependence syndrome and with a population of less than three million, coupled with abundant resources, Namibia is capable of feeding herself.
Inaccessibility of Namibians to certain schools of employment
Namibians fought against racial discrimination and all forms of segregation. However, it is surprising and disturbing to witness a situation where Namibians are denied employment in some schools, which allege that locals are not competent enough to teach in such institutions. If Namibians managed to successfully wage the war of liberation, it becomes an insult to assume that they are not capable of managing any institution. Denying Namibians to be deployed in those schools is against constitutional provisions.
Article 20 (4) (d) of the Namibian Constitution is very clear and states that “no restrictions of whatever nature are imposed with respect to the recruitment of staff based on race or colour.” If private schools are obliged to follow the constitutional provision, why are Namibians not employed in those schools? Some schools and colleges post already filled adverts in newspapers, just to appease the Ministry of Home Affairs. Because some of these schools perform better, which any Namibian school can achieve, Namibians are hoodwinked to think that those are the only best schools in the country, and hence the overwhelming queues during application periods in June every year. This is also another indication of the dependence syndrome to think that it is only St. Boniface and Sunshine Private Schools which can perform the best in Namibia.
Caretaking process at tertiary institutions
The years of dependence syndromes at these institutions have been intensified, and the trend seems to continue unabated after 31 years of Independence. Yes, there was a little workforce at these institutions at Independence, but for 31 years, though strides have been made, a lot more needs to be achieved.
There is a bottleneck situation at the top, which inhibits Namibians to freely flow and manage their tertiary institutions in toto. It is another recolonising process, where Namibian intellectuals are under the supervision of other nationals. This situation is not tenable in any SADC country or elsewhere in the world where nationals are independent. Namibia is a sovereign country, and needs to take control and manage its own affairs within the Global Village framework. At the same time, both locals and other nationals should reciprocate in order to benefit one another.
Whereas the services of other nationals are critically needed, Namibians should also be given the opportunity of exercising their rights and take up leadership positions. A situation where other nationals perpetually suppress and even undermine locals is not tenable anywhere in the world. Nevertheless, both parties should work for the common good of locals and finally for humanity. Namibia should not be seen to be an academic dumping ground, which will keep on maintaining the dependence syndrome tendency, whereas other countries are striving to stand on their feet academically and agriculturally.