Poly lecturing space bursting at seamsBy: SELMA SHIPANGA
CLASSROOM space at the Polytechnic of Namibia is insufficient to cater for its almost 13 000 student population.
This was revealed during a Ministry of Education investigation into alleged irregularities at the tertiary institution, which was concluded in March this year.
The report says a number of students, especially those doing business subjects, have complained about overcrowded classrooms.
Students are sitting on steps in the lecture halls and some even stand outside.
“Overcrowded classrooms and the allocation of classrooms to specific groups led students to believe that the management and planning of facilities were poor since it should be possible to match the number of students to a classroom of the correct size,” the investigation found.
Sources within the Polytechnic who spoke to The Namibian on condition of anonymity confirmed this fact, but all gave different versions as to why the institution’s infrastructure is not sufficient.
Some accused Polytechnic of being in “the habit of registering more students than it can accommodate, which could be the reason for the overcrowding.”
This was also highlighted in the investigation report which reads: “Some students said they had observed that the institution enrolled more and more students and started many new courses even though the shortage of lecturing space was a familiar and much-discussed fact.”
Kaitira Kandjii, Polytechnic director of marketing and communications, told The Namibian he could not comment on the findings of the report without approval from the institutions Rector, Tjama Tjivikua, who he said was “very busy”.
Said one source: “Due to underfunding from government, the Polytechnic has found it difficult to develop and expand the institution while at the same time maintain current infrastructure.”
The tertiary institution currently has a total of 6 738 full-time registered students, 3 300 part-time and 2 927 distance students, which bring the total to 12 965.
Also found to be insufficient are the library facilities, which are “not conducive to learning” for the number of students. Students are also reported to have remarked on the inadequate number of study spaces and the inventory of books.
The number of computer laboratories was described by students as “insufficient”.
A well-placed source within the the Polytechnic told The Namibian that when the institution’s library was inaugurated back in 2005, the number of enrolled students stood at only 5 986. The Polytechnic’s student enrolment figure has more than doubled over the seven-year period.
“This coupled with the Polytechnic’s much publicised funding situation means that the institution cannot consider the expansion of facilities such as the library,” a Polytechnic insider told The Namibian.
The investigation states that students could also not understand how new buildings could be built for engineering and bio-medical sciences while there was already a shortage of space for lecturing for existing courses.
Students interviewed, including Student Representative Council (SRC) members said they felt “management’s priorities were skewed”.
SRC members interviewed during the investigation questioned why the administration facilities of the Polytechnic were improved but not much attention given to additional lecture rooms or student facilities and accommodation.
“This created the impression that the administration of the institution was deemed more important than the needs of the students,” reads the findings.
The SRC members are also complained about the annual increase of student fees “while the services to students do not improve”.
In addition, students complained about the lack of sport facilities which led to sport facilities being rented and students having to be transported to different venues to participate in the various sport activities.
The investigation reveals that both management and staff concurred with students on the views on the lack of facilities. “Management and the council ascribed the situation to limited budgetary allocation by government as the single biggest cause of the lack of facilities and the slow expansion of physical facilities.
The Namibian could not get hold of Education Minister Abraham Iyambo to hear what recommendations his ministry made upon conclusion of the investigation. Deputy Minister Namwandi, when contacted, referred The Namibian to Iyambo.