KEETMANSHOOP - Higher education has more value than money and should be used, said Unam vice chancellor Kenneth Matengu.
He made these remarks in his commencement speech, read out on his behalf at the opening of the 2020 academic year at the Unam Southern Campus. Matengu said Unam, as an academic institution, cannot remain ignorant of the changes their environment goes through. “We should, therefore, resist the temptation to be stuck in our own old ways and adopt new ways of addressing problems,” he strongly emphasised.
Referring to the institution’s new vision as part of change, Matengu explained the idea behind it is to change the previous modus operandi and seek to challenge current ideas about expectations from students and staff. “It means more autonomy for faculties and centres, but a greater degree of accountability.”
The vice chancellor further said Unam is no longer interested in students who use the institution as a stepping-stone to secure employment afterwards.
“We want students to come to the university with questions and problems that affect their villages, their countries and the world,” he explained.
Matengu also urged students not to ignore the inner voice that say they can invent and innovate. He added that the campus creates opportunities for them to take advantage of, in order to serve humanity best. “This is the Unam we want: one that solves problems and not begging for employment,” Matengu stressed.
Addressing staff, he said Unam wants lecturers who can inspire students, not treating education like a chore by merely doing the minimum required. “We want lecturers who makes classes exciting for students, pushing them to the limits of their imagination,” he explained.
The academic added that through this, students will have respect for the institution the day they leave it – able to solve problems they may face in the outside world.
The vice chancellor then gave the assurance that Unam respects academic freedom, which refers to the freedom of academics to teach, pursue, research and discuss knowledge without interference or restrictions.
“As an institution, we enjoy a position of supremacy in that we have the right to decide who teaches, what must be taught, how it must be taught and who should be admitted to study,” he explained.
In terms of the institution’s current status, Matengu said it is in a key moment of its history, where a new path must be found due to circumstances that have changed. He added that this would not be an easy path.
The vice chancellor further called on all parties to be patient and support each other on this new journey, finding solutions to new challenges.
In explaining the way forward, he implored on all to be open to change in a positive spirit.
According to him, the approved re-structuring plan makes provision for faculties to be combined and reduced from eight to four.
“These suggested structural changes will make Unam more agile, efficient and flexible enough to respond to the rapidly changing external environment we find ourselves in,” he assured. -firstname.lastname@example.org