Since the independence of Namibia in 1990, the largest percentage of the National Budget of Namibia has been spent on education (Republic of Namibia, 2015). The GRN has set out since independence National Development Plans (NDPs) to guide and direct Namibia towards growth and economic independence. NDP1 1995/1996 to 1999/2000 gave an overview of Namibia and reviewed the progress made during the transitional period after independence, the medium term goals and targets, national development, labour- and employment- and human resource development. (National Planning Commission, 1995). In 2001, NDP 2 was implemented for the period 2001/2002 to 2005/2006. NDP 2 revealed that only 6% of the employees employed had tertiary education and that there was disequilibrium between supply and demand of skilled labour (National Planning Commission, 1999).
During 2004 the Government crafted Vision 2030 (Office of the President, 2004) as a policy framework for long-term national development to reduce the imbalances and to address the task of restoration and development (Keyter, 2002). The aim of Vision 2030 is to improve the quality of life of all Namibians to be on par with their counterparts in the developed world. The seventh objective of Vision 2030 (Office of the President, 2004, p. 41) is “to accomplish the transformation of Namibia into a knowledge-based highly competitive, industrialised and eco-friendly nation, with sustainable economic growth and a high quality of life”. Ensuring that Namibia becomes a knowledge-based economy places a huge responsibility on the education system and in particular on public institutions of higher learning. To achieve this, the provision of appropriate education at all levels was established as a strategy, NDP 3 and NDP 4 were developed based on the objectives of Vision 2030. Thus, promotion of education should be is a central priority to ensure the success of all the efforts of the GRN to drive Namibia towards being a developed country.
According to NDP 3 (2007/2008 to 2011/2012 (National Planning Commission, 2007, p.175) the following constraints regarding higher learning in Namibia were identified: “minimal co-operation is taking place between institutions of higher learning and industry; lack of a central platform to coordinate research; undersupply of adequate level of scientists; and a shortage of innovation capacity in Namibia. According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry patents registered were 95% from South Africans and only 5% from Namibians”.
The fact that the Namibian education system performs below international standards was highlighted in NDP 4 2012/2013 to 2016/2017 (National Planning Commission Namibia, 2012, p. 45). These concerns were shared by the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education in Namibia. The three areas that contribute to the under performance of the education system can be attributed to the quality of education, lack of infrastructure and lack of Information Technology at primary, secondary and higher learning level. The lack of quality graduates produced by higher learning institutions and public institutions of higher learning, in particular, hampers Namibia from achieving the aims set out in Vision 2030 (Office of the President, 2004).
The lack of skilled labour coming from institutions of higher learning and public institutions into the Namibian labour market has been a challenge that needs to be addressed owing to the disequilibrium of supply and demand of skilled labour since 2001 (National Planning Commission, 2012). Another concern is that Research and Development (RD) that has not yet been sufficient to drive the country to economic independence. The GRN spent only 0,3% of Gross Domestic Product on RD by the end of 2017 (National Planning Commission, 2012).
To supplement Vision 2030 and the NDPs, the GRN crafted the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) and launched the HPP in 2016 for the period 2016/17-2019/20 (Office of the President, 2016). The main purpose of this plan is to set action plans to fast-track development in priority areas, taking into consideration the dynamic environment in which government and industry operate. The HPP is based on five supporting principles, namely effective governance, economic advancement, social progression, infrastructure development and international relations and cooperation. Effective governance as one pillar of the HPP addresses two explicit areas of governance, namely accountability and transparency and improved performance and service delivery (Office of the President. 2016). According to Transparency International Namibia ranked 4 out of 54 countries in Africa in transparency HPP for 2016 (Office of the President, 2016). The Mo-Ibrahim Sub Index access the delivery of goods and services and policy outcome across 54 African countries (Mo Ibrahim Foundation 2015). The Mo Ibrahim Foundation describes governance as the provision of the political, social and economic public goods and services that every national is entitle to from their government, and that a government has the responsibility to deliver it to its nationals. The Mo Ibrahim measure a country performance in relation to governance through four key components, namely, safety and rule of law; participation and human rights; sustainable economic opportunity and human development. Each of these components have subcomponents with various indicators that are measureable measures of the principal measurements of governance. In total, the Mo Ibrahim consists of 100 indicators. Namibia scored 65 points of accountability according to the Mo-Ibrahim Sub Index (Mo Ibrahim Foundation, 2015). However, this rating is not supported by the HPP, because of poor service delivery and a lack of transparency (Office of the President, 2016).
Taking into consideration the amount of money invested in UNAM and NUST and the many organisational transformation processes they have gone through, is this lack of transparency and service delivery not the reason why leadership at public institutions of higher learning cannot meet the expectations of the GRN and Namibians generally? To uphold its mandate any institution depends on its leadership. An institution’s success is determined by effective leadership. The move towards globalisation, the improvements in technology, changing workforce and the changing expectations and values of employees and customers create more challenging contexts in which to lead. To remain competitive and able to cope with the increasing uncertainty in the environment, good and effective leadership at public institutions of higher learning is no longer an option but a very crucial element for success.
The development of education in Namibia is a central priority to ensure the success of all the efforts of the GRN to steer Namibia towards being a developed country. One of the sectors that play a crucial role to ensure that Vision 2030 is realised is the higher education sector (Office of the President, 2004). To ensure the success of education in Namibia, the education sector and in particular the higher learning institutions should uphold good leadership principles to ensure that Vision 2030 become a reality. Leaders at public institutions of higher learning should uphold effective leadership to guide their institutions to accomplish their visions and missions. Leaders in organisations are the key role players in decision-making and the quality of their decisions will determine whether their organisations will successfully achieve their aims and objectives (Verma, 2005). This study focused on the two public institutions of higher learning in Namibia, namely UNAM and NUST, in order to assess why the objectives set for higher learning, as set out in NDP 2, 3, 4 and Vision 2030, have not been achieved.
The University of Namibia Act of 1992 states that the aim of UNAM is to offer higher learning and to conduct research, while the Act of NUST states that one objective of NUST is to generate and develop knowledge through teaching and in particular through applied research (Namibia University of Science and Technology, Act of 2015). Teaching and research at tertiary level are embedded in the acts of both public institutions of higher learning. The objectives of both public institutions are set to achieve and support economic and social advancement, through national and international agreements.
Therefore, this study set out to determine what, if any, organisational transformational leadership was employed by UNAM and NUST, which would align these organisations with the goals, as set out by Vision 2030 as well as the resulting National Development Plans. Furthermore, this study then identified the gaps in the current leadership models of the executive structure of both institutions of higher learning, in order to develop a normative leadership model that would bridge these gaps.