Students should be at the forefront of our knowledge-based society
By Hilya Nghiwete, Chief Executive Officer, the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund
Namibia like many other African countries has a young population. A population that has their whole lives ahead of them and their heads full of hopes, dreams and desires. Education always has been and for future generations will be the catalyst for success and the only measurable path to success. Our institutions like University of Namibia, NUST and IUM provide our youth with tertiary education as do the Vocational Centres.
As economic realities start to bite and South Africa gives the Namibian economy reasons to be worried, it is important to be competitive at all levels and every sector. This means that our students also have to be the best of the best. Not just locally, but internationally.
We need to stimulate, motivate and educate our students to be best. Full stop! This means we need to get them to a level where they will be accepted at the prestigious universities around the world. There is lots of talk of the African diaspora globally and we know that South Africans, Kenyans and Nigerians can be found at every Ivy League university as well as European, British and Asian institutions. We Namibians need to be represented at Harvard, MIT, Cambridge and not just at Stellenbosch or UCT. This requires long term planning and a truly Harambee approach to education. We have recently seen a group of students from MIT visiting our Head of State. In the not distant future we want to see a group of Namibians studying at any of the Ivy League universities paying a courtesy visit to our Head of State. Or even have our President Dr. Geingob visit Namibian students at an Ivy League university.
Top talent needs to be identified at an early age and nurtured. No longer must we see or assume that a Namibian graduating from Princeton University is a unique event. This must occur more and more often. Where the saying used to be “It takes a village to raise a child.”
We should now get into the mindset that it takes a nation to educate a child and produce globally competitive graduates. Educational and financial resources need to be targeted to specific programmes and students so that they may thrive and prosper and help increase the Namibian diaspora of students globally and academically.
As CEO of the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), education is close to my heart and it pains me to see when graduates are not able to fulfill their potential and get the jobs and careers they desire and deserve after all the hard work they have put in. However, there is a whole world out there and we cannot only look and operate within our own borders anymore. Namibia plans to be a knowledge-based society by 2030 and our young talented pupils and students will be the standard-bearers of this vision. As mentioned this is where we need a Harambee approach to education and this means that we cannot just leave it to a specific Ministry to achieve this new vision. Business, schools, Government (local, regional and national), NGO’s, private citizens and every other stakeholder including friends and families need to be part of this goal.
Namibia need to focus on becoming a force to be reckoned with internationally and being represented at the major universities to groom and hone our talented youth is the first step.