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WINDHOEK: The death of former President Hage Geingob represents a great loss to Namibia’s education and training sector, Higher Education, Training and Innovation Minister, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi, has said.

Geingob, who passed away in Windhoek on 04 February, appointed Kandjii-Murangi to the higher education portfolio in March 2015.

The former University of Namibia dean of students said Geingob advocated for innovation and training in the higher education sector.

At the onset, when he assumed the presidency in 2015, she said President Geingob told her of his vision of transforming tertiary education and the need to prepare Namibia for the fourth industrial revolution.

‘He informed me that what he expects of me is to ensure that I take off where the previous ministers left off. He also indicated that we are in a different era and that we need to see a visible integration of technology and innovation in our higher education and training systems.

One of the things he mentioned was that the aspect of resear
ch is critical, particularly in our economy, as well as developing local researchers,’ Kandjii-Murangi said, recalling what her former principal initially tasked her to do.

The minister in an exclusive interview described President Geingob as a highly professional person, an educator and a scholar of note.

‘In the cabinet he chaired, that’s where we saw him showing his political prowess and vast knowledge in terms of different complex situations within the country, regionally as well as globally.’

The minister further recalled that the former head of state was easy to work with.

‘At first, when you meet him, you will probably think he is hard and authoritarian. But when you get to know him, you realise that this person is eager to share his knowledge with all those who work with him. And one thing is that he was gifted in was identifying and developing talent,’ she said.

According to Kandjii-Murangi, when Geingob put together his first cabinet, he took a bold decision to address technical and vocational
education and training (TVET) in Namibia. He directed that TVET be transformed so that it could become visible and a career path of choice for school learners.

‘He directed that access should be expanded by building technical and vocational institutions in regions where they did not exist then,’ she said.

Since then, a lot of work has been done to realise President Geingob’s vision for TVET, but more is still to be done.

‘In terms of what we have achieved, we have amended the TVET policy to focus specifically on trades needed to drive the economy. These are trades that speak to the issue of agriculture in terms of ensuring that there is food security in our country. We rolled out agricultural trades in several of our TVET centres where they were not in existence,’ the minister said.

To ensure the quality of technical and vocational education, Kandjii-Murangi now has a fully-fledged faculty of instructor education at NUST that only looks at TVET instructors.

She noted that former President Geingob, when h
e launched his first Harambee Prosperity Plan (HHP), directed that each region has a TVET centre.

In the HPP, he also directed that Namibia adopt TVET technical and vocational education and training as the standardised international training convention.

Kandjii-Murangi added that four regions have already been identified for the establishment of new TVET colleges.

‘This year we will launch new TVET centres in Kunene, including the one in the Hardap Region we have already launched. And another one in Keetmanshoop. There is one coming up in Nkurenkuru. The idea of these TVET centres is to ensure that each will focus on different technical trades,’ she said.

She went on to say that in July 2021, Geingob appointed an eight-member presidential task force on the Fourth Industrial Revolution mandated to look specifically at the preparedness of Namibia in terms of the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

‘That led our two public universities to begin looking at their academic programmes and making sure t
hat they are aligned to the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ Kandjii-Murangi said.

Source: The Namibia Press Agency