Namibian scholars urged to produce knowledge

> Andreas Thomas

Windhoek – Namibian scholars who are conspicuously absent in the production of knowledge, have been urged to engage in writing academic textbooks for local consumption.

There is a need for locally produced materials with local content that can be used by students at university and college level who are currently depending on expensive foreign and in some cases obsolete books.

These are some of sentiments expressed on Tuesday, November 17 during the launch of a book entitled “The Management and Administration of Development in the Southern African Development Community Region”.

The book was authored and edited by Dr Andrew Niikondo, the Vice Rector of Academic Affairs at the Polytechnic of Namibia, with contributions from other scholars at local universities and abroad.

Niikondo contributed seven chapters in the book with 13 chapters in total, which provides insight on management and administration of development in Namibia, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and beyond.

Guest speaker at the launch held at the National Archives Library, liberation struggle icon and former cabinet minister, Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo described the book as an achievement for Namibia’s academia.

“This is indeed a great achievement to Namibia as a nation because we have joined a higher level of academia where were are also to export knowledge to other countries,” Ya Toivo said in statement read on his behalf by Tommy Nambahu, the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism.

“Currently our students at tertiary level of education are predominantly using books, journals, magazines and academic materials from other countries, particularly South Africa.

“This means after 25 years of independence we keep importing knowledge from somewhere else, a practice which is costly to the national economy. It is also a fact that some of these publications lack affinity to our national and system peculiarities,” said the former Minister of Mines and Energy.

He said Namibian students are the beneficiaries of the book that can be prescribed for first and second year students in economics and development studies.

“Through its extensive research and analysis, the book reproduces very pertinent observations about the situation of development  and the grave risks our countries face if the these issues are not made known addressed.

“I admit, this book has come at an opportune time when we need to educate and train our young generation on how development should be managed and administered for the benefit of all our people and society,” he said.

On his part, Niikondo who made a successful transition from military to academia told the audience at the well-attended launch that the idea to pen the book started back in 2003 when he join the School of Human Sciences at the Polytechnic of Namibia as a lecturer.

“After some years of teaching this subject (Development Management) I experienced a serious challenge because all books that I was using became obsolete and there were no more books in stock. I googled various sites in search of books that I could prescribe to students but it was no to avail.

Eventually, I decided to take the bull by the horns to write my own book,” said the former officer in the Namibia Defence Force (NDF).

Niikondo has a doctorate degree in politics and public administration from the University of Namibia.

His main research interests lie in the fields of regional integration, gender and development, public management and administration. He paid tribute to co-authors who contributed chapters in the book.

These includes Professor Charles Keyter (University of Namibia), Dr Johan Koetzee (Polytechnic of Namibia), Professor Darma Mahadae (University of Kwazulu Natal), Professor Eleni Sfakianaki and Professor Imitrios Giannias (Hellenic Open University, Greece), Dr Shameem Ali from the University of Kuwait and Professor Martina Metzger (Berlin School of Economic and Law, Germany).

Niikondo explained that: “The book is designed to equip students with analytical, methodological and practical expertise to make a positive contribution to development in Namibia, SADC and in any countries with which they are involved.

“In particular, it helps students to acquire a range of tools for the formulation of appropriate responses to a diverse range of problems, including those relating to productive capacity, inter-social integration, economic and social diversification and self-sufficiency.

“The book examines strategies for better management performance and efficiency in administration, combined with policies relating to questions of development and in particular, the reduction of poverty.”

Former Chief of NDF Lieutenant-General (Retired) Ndenga Ndaitwah who was Niikondo’s immediate commander just after independence praised the latter for charting a course for other Namibian scholars to follow.   

“Gone are the days that we continue to be depended on materials from other countries.

It is time for local academics to start writing books. We have good materials in our bookshops, but they are foreign materials,” he said.

The former military man also spoke about the importance of reading.

“One thing is this country, Namibians generally don’t read.

As such you don’t expect us to write.

“We need to develop a culture of reading. Our youngsters read during examinations. After the examinations have ended, they will retire from reading. But reading culminates in a culture of writing, which is value addition to the nation,” Ndaitwah said.

November 2015
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