In Namibia, SWAPO pushes for free education


The ruling SWAPO Party is intent on pushing for free tertiary education in priority sectors such as medicine, engineering, marine science and agriculture – as promised in the party’s election manifesto.

During last year’s general election, SWAPO said that if it were re-elected it would explore the possibility of free tertiary education in certain sectors. Currently all courses in Namibia’s tertiary institutions, irrespective of their standing, are offered at a cost in terms of tuition and other fees. But now that Swapo Party is back in power, its Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba said yesterday in an interview, it will work hard to deliver on its major promises, among them free tertiary education in certain academic fields.

“We will try to push as much as we can to ensure that the promises are fulfilled. We will start with free secondary education next year, and it will then be time to make all the necessary calculations and see how broad are the tertiary education specialized courses,” said Mbumba.

He singled out medicine, engineering, marine science and agriculture as priority areas in which the country faces a huge skills deficit.

“We need our own doctors, we should not be importing doctors from outside all the time. We need engineers so that all the construction work such as on roads and bridges – anything we build or any supervision – is contracted in the hands of Namibians. We need marine scientists and agricultural experts, and not just any one who plants a tree or mahangu is an agriculturist. So we need those subjects and we will pursue them.” In its manifesto Swapo said it would mobilise resources so that secondary education too is offered free from next year, along with primary education which is already offered free, in all public schools.

In terms of foreign relations, Swapo promised to aggressively pursue south-south cooperation, which in all likelihood will see the country strengthen its ties with developing African countries and emerging world economic powers such as China.

Other promises include national reconciliation, speedy delivery of justice and strengthening of the country’s agricultural sector, which the party says will form an integral part of Swapo’s activities in the next five years. Swapo further promises to refine public procurement to accelerate industrialisation, while vowing to ensure that Namibians acquire respectable ownership in all industries.

Laws and policies guiding the management of public enterprises will also be accelerated so that such institutions meaningfully contribute to state revenue, the party further states in its manifesto. Mbumba has been at the forefront of the compilation of the manifesto after collecting information, conducting research, visiting different parts of the country, talking to communities and interacting with the population.