Unam wants solutions

The University of Namibia's vice chancellor Kenneth Matengu said the institution is no longer looking for students who want to be employed, but rather students who want to solve the problems affecting them and the world at large.

20 February 2020 | Education

The University of Namibia (Unam) no longer wants to produce jobseekers, but rather graduates who leave the institution with solutions to problems.

This is according to Unam vice chancellor professor Kenneth Matengu, who made the remarks during his speech at the opening of the 2020 academic year.

“As some of you may know, Unam has recently changed its focus by taking a few deliberate actions. Among them is our new vision. The idea behind our vision is to make a smart turn from how the university has operated in the past, and seek to challenge the prevailing ideas about what it is we expect from students and staff. It means more autonomy for faculties and centres, but a greater degree of accountability,” said Matengu.

“We are no longer interested in students who only wish to come to the university because they want to be employed somewhere afterwards. We want students to come to the university with questions and problems that affect their villages, their countries and the world. These curious minds, together with our esteemed professors, should explore the means by which to address these challenges.”

“It barely rains in Namibia, how else can we find water? The engineering students should come here hoping to find answers and not employment. Our roads have one of the highest mortality rates from accidents –what can the social scientists and computer science students do to solve this atrocity? There is an endless list of problems this country has that has the potential to grow a fantastic career and significantly improve the quality of life. Every problem is an opportunity.”

He said this did not mean being employed is bad, but that employment should not be the only reason students seek education. He added that employment should be an option, or a means by which to raise capital to solve the problems students have identified.

He said the scope for business and entrepreneurship in Namibia is huge because challenges are many.

“The main challenge is the mindset of entitlement and the government-must-provide syndrome. Governments can only create an enabling environment, thereafter solutions lie in your mind. Education is more important than money. One element in the ecosystem of the enabling environment is the university. Let's challenge ourselves to make this country great. Tap on your talent, seek to understand your strengths. Be self-aware. Find the one thing you alone were created to achieve for humanity,” Matengu said.

He added that history has proven that whenever you fix a problem, money is never far behind.

“That is the Unam we want, a Unam that solves problems, not a Unam that begs for employment. Maximise your time at the university and be impactful. We create opportunities but you must take advantage of these opportunities. Seek to be of service to humanity. We also have expectations from staff,” he remarked.

“We want lecturers who inspire their students, and not lecturers who treat education like a chore – just show up and do the bare minimum and go home,” said Matengu.

ILENI NANDJATO

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