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scramble for university enrollment

2015-01-14  Mathias Haufiku

scramble for university enrollment
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Grade 12 results to unleash a rush for places at tertiary institutions, while ministry says tertiary education too pro-academic By Mathias Haufiku WINDHOEK - With the Grade 12 Ordinary Level examination results to be released tomorrow, the country’s two state-owned tertiary education institutions, the University of Namibia and the Polytechnic of Namibia, will over the coming weeks have to deal with a huge influx of prospective students. However, yesterday the Minister of Education Dr David Namwandi said the country’s education system is too pro-academic at the expense of vocational training. He cautioned against naïve thinking towards vocational training, given that annually only a quarter of high school graduates are fit for university enrollment. “As I always say, out of the 100 percent of those who reach Grade 12, only 25 percent are academically fit, while the remaining 75 percent are either vocationally or technologically inclined. We must not be naïve and neglect those who prefer vocational training,” said Namwandi. He said there is a need to remove the perception that those who are not academically inclined are inferior, adding: “This must be banned, rejected and condemned with the highest contempt it deserves.” He added: “Our universities normally have an entry requirement of 25 points, but what happens to those who attained only 23 or 24 points, do you want to say they are stupid?” Vocational education has been playing second fiddle to the academic stream over the years, and the Ministry of Education has recently gone on a robust curriculum overhaul to ensure that those who wish to follow the vocational path are not made to believe that they are inferior to those who are academically-inclined. Namwandi yesterday again emphasised that Namibia’s development agenda can only prosper if it follows in the footsteps of countries like Germany and Singapore who invested heavily in vocational education. “That is why we want to review the curriculum so that no one is left behind, and with the full implementation of the curriculum things will change,” he said. Over recent years the two state tertiary institutions have been forced to turn away thousands of prospective students due to space constraints. The University of Namibia last year dished out 6 000 admission letters, but it normally admits on average 3 000 students. The Polytechnic of Namibia can only admit about 5 000 students out of about 15 000 students who applied for admission for the 2015 academic year. The intakes do not tally with the total of 44 932 high school learners, comprising of 19 392 full-time and 25 540 part-time candidates, who sat for 2014 Grade 12 Ordinary Level examinations at 176 schools and 125 part-time tuition centres countrywide. The two state-owned institutions have a minimum entry requirement of 25 points across the board with the various departments also having additional requirements depending on the field of study. Students who do not make it into the country’s two national tertiary institutions often choose to go to private tertiary institutions such as the International University of Management and Monitronic Success College, while some opt to improve their matric results to stand a better chance of being admitted. “I can reliably inform you that the University of Namibia roughly admits, on average, over 3 000 first year students each year. However, normally, admission letters handed out range at about 5 000. Last year, we saw 6 000 students receive admission letters,” said University of Namibia (Unam) spokesperson John Haufiku. Haufiku said the interest to study at the country’s biggest university is owed to its growing presence across the country, with a newly built campus in Keetmanshoop, officially dubbed the Unam Southern Campus, and also the extended infrastructure at the Katima Mulilo and Rundu campuses. The Polytechnic of Namibia said it would like to admit all those that meet the requirements but due to limited space this is not possible. The technicon received applications from close to 20 000 prospective students in 2013 to be admitted for the 2014 academic year, while last year that figure dropped to 15 000. “The drop was caused by more matriculants opting to study abroad in countries such as Malaysia, India, Russia and so on,” said the Polytechnic of Namibia. According to government’s Estimates of Revenue, Income and Expenditure document for the period April 1 2014 to March 31 2017, the total estimated allocation to the University of Namibia is N$1.05 billion, while N$482 million has been allocated to the Polytechnic of Namibia for the 2015/2016 financial year.
2015-01-14  Mathias Haufiku

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