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Relevance, Rhetoric and Reality: National Development at The University of Namibia

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Relevance, Rhetoric and Reality: National Development at The University of Namibia


"This dissertation is the product of, first, an exploration of the history of the concept of the Development University in Africa, and second, analysis of documents and a series of interviews in Namibia. The dissertation has the following goals: To situate the University of Namibia's commitment to national development within the Development University tradition, as well as within the context of Namibia's unique domestic educational history and present climate; To describe and analyse the formulation and implementation of the vision for UNAM's role in national development to date, highlighting successes and pointing out shortcomings and problems; Finally, to raise issues which have not been adequately addressed thus far in the debate about higher education and national development in Namibia The first chapter deals with the notion of the Development University, first looking at the origin of the concept, then moving on to the ways in which universities have been expected to contribute to development in Africa and the problems associated with those expectations. A new perspective on developmentalism within African universities will be suggested, within which the traditional notions of relevance, autonomy, and academic freedom must be re-examined. In the second chapter, Namibia is situated within the context set forth in Chapter One. Although in many ways Namibia resembles other African countries in its experience of and need for university education, the ways in which it is unique will also be explored here. Because part of UNAM's commitment to national development includes a commitment to learn from the experience of other countries, the ways in which Namibia does and does not resemble her neighbours hold important lessons for the path UNAM will (and should) follow. Chapters Three and Four are the products of the Namibian research. Chapter Three examines the formulation of the 'vision' of UNAM's role in national development., and proposes a model describing the three-part process of consensus building. decision making. and administration involved in the formulation and implementation of the viGon. Chapter Four is concerned with the practical implications of UNAM's commitment to national development. In particular, the focus will be on UNAM's development goals, on its new and restructured faculties, and major outreach projects. The conclusion analyses the picture presented in Chapters Three and Four, within the context laid out in the first two chapters. Recommendations and observation - based on staff interviews, as well as on the new perspective on university developmentalism -are made here, with a view toward contributing to the ongoing debate on higher education in Namibia."


Brian Joseph White


University of Edinburgh




Bernard C. Moore






Occasional Paper



Brian Joseph White, “Relevance, Rhetoric and Reality: National Development at The University of Namibia,” Namibia Digital Repository, accessed January 22, 2019,

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