The expansion of access to the TVET stream is one notable achievement within the higher education sector as vocational trainees increased from 32 120 in 2019/20 to 34 920 in 2020/21. TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) is education and training which provides knowledge and skills for employment. It uses formal, non-formal and informal learning. TVET is recognised to be a crucial vehicle for social equity, inclusion and sustainable development.
Higher education executive director Alfred van Kent said a number of TVET centres are being upgraded and new ones are under construction, all in a bid to take education and training to all the regions. The number of students getting access to TVET exceeds the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) target.
“Government is committed to making sure that education and training is taken to the rural masses of our country,” he noted. Furthermore, 68 757 students are enrolled in the higher education sector, and 32 849 students were awarded loans through NSFAF to pursue tertiary education at local and foreign institutions during the 2020/21 financial year.
He mentioned these figures when asked how the ministry has been able to promote a coordinated higher education system, enhance students’ access to higher education, and ensure quality higher education thus far.
Van Kent said since its inception, the ministry has initiated interventions to ensure that quality higher education is delivered to the Namibian nation through the advancement of quality programmes and credible projects at higher education institutions.
“As a ministry, we regard access to higher education as well as skills development of paramount importance to transform the Namibian economy from a resources-based to an innovation and knowledge-intensive economy,” he added.
It is mandatory upon the ministry to ensure collaboration between industry and higher education institutions to warrant that graduates upon completion have skills that are responsive and relevant to market demands.
Through collaboration, higher education institutions are expected to work hand in hand to develop future employees who are well-versed in recent trends in the job market in order to drive growth and development. As a result, there has been an increase in access to tertiary institutions as well as an increase in local tertiary institutions’ graduates. On the issue of unequal funding for public institutions of higher learning, Van Kent observed that all state-owned enterprises are annually compelled to submit business and financial plans to the portfolio minister at least 90 days before the commencement of its next financial year.
At this stage, the government, when allocating budgetary resources, takes the global ministerial ceiling into consideration. These include each institution’s total revenue base (registration fees, tuition fees), personnel expenditure and new programmes to be implemented. As a result, the ministry takes all the factors into consideration in determining the total government budget allocation to an entity in a specific financial year.
“It is, therefore, far-fetched to claim that Unam is funded more than NUST. The programmes offered at institutions coupled with financial expenditures play a significant role in determining government allocations to a particular institution. The needs and capacities, programmes on offer, staff complement as well as number of students at these two public institutions are totally different, which dictates funds to be allocated to them,” he clarified.
On budget cuts, he said addressing financial issues is a budget issue, and budgetary allocations are determined by the finance ministry.
“Yes, we are not oblivious to the difficult economic climate the government is currently experiencing, which resulted in a slight reduction on government subventions to public institutions. This bleak economic picture has affected budgetary allocations to all our public enterprises, like it did to other agencies and sectors of government,” Van Kent stressed.
Moreover, he said, all public enterprises under the higher education ministry have budget limitations, and it is the responsibility of each institution to ensure that they remain within their allocated budget by instituting prudent financial management measures.