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Tribalism claims: Unam probes School of Medicine intake

Jemima Beukes
The University of Namibia (Unam) has declined to make its School of Medicine intake list public following claims that it is dominated by Aawambo students.

The university has countered that one cannot conclude a person’s tribe by merely looking at their name.

It said it would be inappropriate to release the accepted students’ names as this would violate their right to privacy, adding that the institution may not do so without their consent.

“In this case, this is confidential and personal information of all the students who have applied and the students who were admitted. Additionally, releasing student names without due consideration could open the door to identity theft, fraud or other malicious activities, which could compromise the safety and security of our valued students.”

Part of the controversial list – which made the rounds on social media last month - showed that 22 of 29 students have Aawambo surnames, while some sources claim that about 90% of the complete list are students from that community.

‘Highly competitive’

In a response to Namibian Sun, Unam spokesperson Simon Namesho said it is important to highlight that professional qualifications - regulated by professional bodies - at any university are highly competitive in terms of admission requirements, adding that the number of students admitted is always limited.

He further noted that the university is cognisant of this fact and is considering various options in consultation with the relevant professional body to address the situation.

First-year intakes are regulated by professional bodies to ensure quality training, he said.

“Prospective students from marginalised communities in Namibia - in the majority of cases when meeting admission requirements - are afforded placement into the highly sought bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery programmes. Notwithstanding the need for diversity sensitivity to which the university subscribes, it is also important in a multicultural society not to arrive at conclusions just by looking at names as the only variable, as this - in some instances - could not be accurate,” Namesho said.

‘A claim not always fact’

According to him, the university’s executive management has taken note of the public claim, and instituted internal processes to establish all the facts surrounding the matter.

“It is important to consider that a claim is not always a fact. The matter of establishing all the facts is tedious, as it requires information from different sources, hence the delay.

“We understand the public interest in the matter, but would appreciate that the university is afforded the opportunity - in the public interest - to establish the facts, and thereafter, inform accordingly on the basis of evidence. The university will release a statement on the matter next week,” he said.

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Namibian Sun 2023-03-30

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