Raimo Ndapewa Naanda
It was with profound sadness that I learnt about the passing away of president Hage Gottfried Geingob, a distinguished scholar, a reputable administrator and a visionary leader, who also happened to be my neighbour at the farm near Otavi.
When he was appointed Prime Minister of Namibia after independence, as a young man, I followed him with keen interest as to how he was administering government affairs at the time. I was also so much fascinated in the manner how government affairs were ran at the time by him being Prime Minister of Namibia.
I admired his administrative skills, let alone his charismatic leadership style. When Hage was Prime Minister, and for his passion towards vocational education and training at the time, he was an obvious choice of a leader that we as management at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre (WVTC), under my leadership as principal, decided to invite to come and officiate at our third graduation ceremony on 7 July 2000. He accepted our invitation without any hesitation. What a memorable occasion it was for us as centre to be accorded such an honour by a distinguished leader. On the graduation day, it was my first encounter with the late Geingob.
I could not believe myself sitting on the left side of the Prime Minister at the high table. I must admit that as a young man and being the principal of the centre, I was so frightened to address the audience in the presence of the Prime Minister, although I was so much overjoyed to be seated next to him.
Nonetheless, as invited speakers were delivering their speeches before the keynote address, the two of us had a conversation on the sidelines. I was narrating to him about WVTC activities. He whispered in my ear telling me “young man, you are doing a great job”.
Little did I know that our leaders were watching what we were doing as a centre. His words brought total joy and calmness in me, and that’s when I realised that he was a people’s person. Fast forward, before the late Hage became Head of State of Namibia, vocational education and training was not receiving the prominence it deserved.
When he was elected president, he decided to split the Ministry of Education into two ministries, namely Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation. With the creation of the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation during 2015, vocational education and training started getting the prominence it deserved.
With solidifying the Namibian house, the late Hage championed the Harambee Prosperity Plan 1 (HPPI), which was an accelerated plan to achieve the aspirations of Vision 2030. Having an interest in the prosperity of the Namibian people and economic development of this country, the late Hage ensured that Namibia had the right technical and vocational skills to take the country forward.
He stated the following in the HPPI document: “Namibians have overcome tremendous historical obstacles in the past, and through the HPP, I am confident that we will rise to the challenges of the present and those we will encounter in the future. This plan ushers Namibia into the era of prosperity for all.”
Being a proponent for technical, vocational education and training (TVET) myself, what stood out for me importantly in the HPPI document was the following: “Developed economies were not build by PhD holders, but by craftsmen and artisans. We cannot expect development without these requisite skills”. I personally fully subscribe to this notion because most developed nations across the world have developed because of TVET-skilled people, who are building and shaping their economies. The HPPI document set the following strategies: Vocational Education Training Expansion; Recognition of prior learning; Improve quality of VET provision; Improve the image of VET and apprenticeship and funding.
I am happy to report today that the goals set out in HPPI were achieved. Vocational education training expansion: Today, all 14 political regions in the country have a public TVET centre. The number of private TVET providers has also increased significantly over the years. It is equally important to mention that enrolment at TVET centres increased significantly from 1 200 during 2000 to over 34 000 today.
Recognition of prior learning: A system was introduced to recognise technical and vocational-related skills of persons who acquired such outside any formal education system. Improve the quality of VET provision: The sector has upgraded most of the public TVET centres, and efforts are currently underway to improve the quality of TVET practitioners and trainers.
Improve the image of TVET: TVET was previously perceived as a second educational choice stream. Today, the TVET image has improved significantly to the extent that more and more school-leavers are opting to pursue career choices in TVET. Apprenticeship and funding: The apprenticeship system was re-introduced, and more companies are participating in the apprenticeship scheme more than ever before. Also, the VET levy was introduced to ensure sufficient funding towards the sector. The above are just some of the TVET sector achievements under the leadership of the late Geingob. Although not all strategies under HPPII targeting the TVET sector have been realised, efforts by the relevant ministry and agencies are still busy ensuring that they are accomplished. I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to former first lady Monica Geingos, the children and the entire extended Geingob family during this time of mourning for our beloved president.
May his beloved soul rest in eternal peace.
*Dr Raimo Ndapewa Naanda is a TVET expert. He holds a PhD in Curriculum Studies from the University of Stellenbosch, and is currently the deputy executive director at the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation.