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Funding of tertiary institutions based on arbitrary decisions – Poly Rector

Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia, Dr Tjama Tjivikua.

Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia, Dr Tjama Tjivikua.

Polytechnic Rector, Tjama Tjivikua is of the opinion that funding of public higher education institutions has not been based on scientific methodology. The respected rector says that even though the Polytechnic submits its fully substantiated budget requests in time, the end result has been very dissapointing for the country’s second largest tertiary institution.
“The practice in use leads one to conclude that funding is based on arbitrary decisions which in turn are based on mysterious reasons and not on institutional needs or the prevailing economic situation in the sector or the national economy,” he said.
Tjivikua was responding to queries about government’s decision to cut the Polytechnic’s budget, which has been stagnating for the last couple of years. According to the rector, 2012 funding for the Polytechnic took a turn for the worse as the institution’s subsidy amount was reduced by 27% from the previous year’s amount of N$222 million to a mere N$163 million for the 2012/13 financial year.
Similarly, the capital funding that develops new infrastructure for the institution is on a downward slope from N$85 million in 2011/12 to N$66 million in 2012/13 and further down to N$56 million for 2013/14 financial year. Since its inception in 1996, enrolment at the institution has increased from 2254 students to 12998 students this year.
In an address to the National Assembly in March this year, the Deputy Minister of Education, Hon. David Namwandi said that the economic slump in Europe and the USA had a negative effect on Namibia as the growth rate of the economy shrunk from 6.6% in the year 2010 to 4.2 % in 2011. According to the Deputy Minister, this has a negative effect on the public sector budget.
“We are told of an adverse global economic situation while the education sector received an increase of 30%. Then we are told to seek funding from the public and private sectors. Where do theory and practice meet? What is the reason?,” Tjivikua inquired. According to the rector, in a well managed system, there is a direct correlation between resources and performance as one cannot invest minimally in education and expect maximum performance or quality products.
Tjivikua said that the implications of the budgetary cuts have a direct impact on any institution and thus the reduction in government’s subsidy for the Polytechnic will have a negative impact on the quality of education delivered and may lead to a situation where the institution may be forced  to temporarily close down either this year or in 2013, or ultimately abandon some of its operations for the next three years.
He said that in terms of the impact on students, the institution will rationalise its operations by reducing enrolment, leading to loss of income for the institution and opportunities for Namibians but this is a long term exercise as programmes need to be phased out over time. With regard to staff, a reduction in budgetary allocations for the Polytechnic means that the salaries at the institution become stagnant with no cost-of-living adjustments or performance-based rewards and no market-driven increases.
“Overall, the impact on the institution will be of such a nature that the Polytechnic will be forced to cut expenses relating to teaching, learning, research and other services, and it will also necessitate adopting a lean administrative structure which will have a negative impact on quality because we are already a very lean organisation, “Tjivikua stressed.
He further stated that budgetary cuts will impact the institution in numerous ways as the institution will have difficulties in attracting, retaining and motivating staff, resulting in high levels of staff turnover, an inability to meet financial obligations, a scaling down of activities, a reduction in academic programmes offered and staff lay-offs or retrenchments.

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