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FRESH BLOOD: Higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi. PHOTO: FILE
FRESH BLOOD: Higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi. PHOTO: FILE

Kandjii-Murangi blasts retention of retired academics

‘Failure to implement succession plans’
Parliament this week discussed a motion to review the mandatory retirement age for academic staff to retain skills and knowledge past the age of 60.
Jemima Beukes
Namibia’s higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi has described the need to retain academic staff past mandatory retirement age as an unacceptable failure to implement, monitor and enforce succession plans.

Parliament this week discussed a motion to review the mandatory retirement age for academic staff in order to retain skills and knowledge past the age of 60.

The motion was brought by South West Africa National Union (Swanu) member of parliament Tangeni Iijambo.

“Proper succession plans within faculties and/or schools at universities should be structured and timelines for in-house capacity development be known, implemented, regularly monitored and evaluated.

“This means robust staff development programmes should be maintained to make sure that suitable new recruits in the scarce fields are brought in at entry levels of faculties and schools and trained accordingly,” the minister said.

The retention of those who have reached retirement age will not ‘clog’ new positions or vacancies, Kandjii-Murangi added.

“At any given time, data from the human resources divisions of our two higher education institutions and the National Council of Higher Education should speak to whether there are real skill shortages in our higher education institutions that cannot be filled by Namibian PhD and master’s degree holders below the age of 60,” she said.

Only for acute shortages

The minister highlighted that current policies allow for retention as a rare consideration not exceeding five years, and only if there is an acute shortage of those skills or if there is unfinished specialised work such as the supervision of PhD students or to provide leadership in an ongoing specialised project.

“Like in other countries, Namibia has some skills deficit. Primarily those whose prerequisites are science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-based subjects and other fields that are critical to the growth of the economy,” she said.

She further pointed out that the physical and mental well-being of ageing professors should be considered when the motion is interrogated by the parliamentary standing committee.

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Namibian Sun 2022-11-27

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