Prof. David R. Namwandi (Founder and Chair of IUM Governing Council)
Prof. Namwandi Declares “2021 as Year of Improved Performance at IUM”
In his annual address to all members of staff at the International University of Management (IUM) to mark the official commencement of the new academic year on 26th January 2021, Prof. David R. Namwandi (Founder and Chair of IUM Governing Council), among other things, declared 2021 as a “Year of Improved Performance” in all aspects of IUM’s operations. The Chairman’s thoughtful statement resonates with the higher education philosophy of continuously improving all aspects of quality in education service delivery. We sat down with the Professor to get more insights into his clarion call to all university staff and below is a summary of what he shared with us.
Challenges and Innovation: The year 2020 was very challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic which negatively affected nearly all spheres of normal life in the entire country. However, in spite of interruptions to normal operations, the challenges provided the university with greater impetus for innovation instead of ‘business as usual.’ For example, the organization, management and delivery of academic programmes was enhanced through the use of various online platforms and creative application of “blended teaching and learning” across IUM’s four campuses much more than ever before.
Optimism over Despair: He observed that the “Spanish Flu” of 1918-1920 infected over ‘500 million people with about 20 million to 50 million mortalities’, but it eventually came to pass. He was therefore optimistic that the current COVID-19 pandemic which has affected nearly all countries in the world will also come to pass due to ongoing advancements in research, scientific knowledge and technological development which would eventually enable mankind to prevail over the pandemic.
Innovation is Inevitable: Prof. Namwandi reminded staff that some of the top technological advancements of the past 10 to 50 years have become obsolete today due to further advancements in science and technology For example, musical cassettes and video tapes have been replaced by CDs, DVDs, Memory Cards, and Micro-chips; Computer floppy disks have been replaced by USBs, special memory Cards, and Micro-data-chips; telegrams have been replaced by emails and mobile phone applications. In like-manner therefore, today’s best technology is fast being replaced by new and even more advanced technology for the future with a robust growth in Artificial Intelligence products and applications.
Implications for IUM: As a higher education institution, the onus is on all IUM staff, students, and stakeholders to confront current and emerging challenges with greater innovative capacity whether we like it, know it, or not. We have no alternative but to embrace the dynamics of scientific and technological advancements in order to remain relevant, more competitive in the global arena and make meaningful contributions to global body of knowledge and human development (Note that dinosaurs became extinct because they could not adapt to the realities of their changing environment).
In other words, the challenges experienced last year and the challenged we are likely to encounter during 2021 must spur everyone to respond to the clarion call for improved performance in everything that we do. That is, improved performance in our interaction with our natural environment; in our conceptualization of phenomena; in the creation of new knowledge; in all our operations; and in the delivery of quality service.
Conclusion: The desired overall improved performance by all functional units of the university cannot wait until tomorrow. In the old “wild west American cowboy films” the cowboy fighters used to say “if you snooze, you lose” meaning that if you are not alert to your changing environment and not innovative enough, you stand to lose or be left behind in the dynamic competitive world. In this regard, IUM has put measures in place for the following among other things:
In addition to the above, the university has established a Centre for Environmental Studies in response to the worldwide imperative initiatives for sustainable development which is critical for Namibia’s fragile environment in the face of global warming and climatic changes. Furthermore, the university is geared to establish a Graduate School of Business to enhance entrepreneurship skills among staff and students alike. All academic staff will be encouraged to undergo relevant pedagogical training to equip them with the latest (state of the art) theories and practice of modern pedagogical skills to ensure effective multiple approaches to quality teaching and learning. Prof. Namwandi concluded by reminding members of staff that in the ‘business of education’, the mark of a learned person was humility. “Humility is honourable. If you are humble and nice to other people (including workmates and students, etc) your legacy and the knowledge you impart to your students would forever be remembered.”