Industries in the public and private sectors were recently urged to rally behind institutions of higher learning in order to effectively support the roll-out of Work-Integrated Education, which is a mandatory requirement for most academic programmes in Namibia.
These sentiments were echoed by various stakeholders at the Industry Engagement event that enabled institutions of higher learning to engage in a panel discussion to deliberate the needs of work-integrated education, which is also referred to as internship.
The event was well attended by captains of industry across various sectors, institutions of higher learning as well as executives from the Ministry of Higher Education Technology and Innovation (MoHETI) in an attempt to collectively and holistically shape the future of Cooperative Work-Integrated Education (CWIE).
According to the Deputy Executive Director at MoHETI, Dr Raimo Naanda, the government of Namibia regards “cooperative education as an important component of teaching and learning”, and has initiated efforts to develop national frameworks and instruments that will guide the operations of CWIE in the country. One such effort is the National taskforce on CWIE which was created to drive CWIE to its realization, added Naanda. He further lauded the Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) for supporting institutions of higher learning through the MTC National Internship Support Programme.
The MTC National Internship Support Programme was launched in 2019 to assist students that require internships to graduate and subsequently create job-ready and experienced graduates. This programme accommodates over 160 students annually across three higher learning institutions and Namibia Training Authority vocational institutions with a total budget of N$7 million per year.
MTC Managing Director, Licky Erastus, expressed that the funding towards the MTC National Internship Support Programme is just “a drop in the ocean” because the number of students in need of experience and the industries with the potential to host them is increasing every year. As a way forward, the MTC Chief Human Capital Officer, Tim Ekandjo, stated that MTC intends to nationalise the internship programme. “MTC is now ready to nationalise the current MTC National Internship Support Programme to a Namibian National Internship Support Programme”, said Ekandjo.
The Namibian National Internship Support Programme is set to increase the annual intake of students to 1600 per annum raising the annual budget to N$14,4 million. MTC in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister will bear a burden of the cost by contributing N$2 million annually. Profit-driven industries were urged to commit a minimum of N$200,000 per annum to make this project a success
Lovisa Nghipandulwa, the University of Namibia (UNAM) Industry and Cooperative Education Coordinator stressed that financial support towards students in need of mandatory CWIE activities will go a long way, given the diverse socio-economic backgrounds the students are coming from. She further urged captains of industries to rally behind this initiative, as the University has seen a tremendous increase in requests for student interns due to the availed funding in recent years.
As of 2023, UNAM will roll out mandatory CWIE across all academic programmes increasing the demand in placement and engagement opportunities with the University’s stakeholders.