Letter – The importance of academic pragmatism in 2022


David Fono Shoombe

It is undoubtedly true that academic excellence leads to a good lifestyle, moreover, it expands the narrow-mindedness to see beyond the obvious. In the same vein, it is indeed true that the good scholar in a bad environment leads to disastrous results that affect the person and the community in which he finds himself. Currently, Namibian institutions of higher learning are led by experienced academics and experts in various fields. They are new races of a generation that has arrived in the period of transformation. Some of these university leaders were affected by the Bantu Education Act of 1953. In a comparative study, it is evident that since 1990 there has been a dramatic increase in the level of literacy in Namibia, which is impressive in 91.5% in 2018. In the appreciation of the increase in the literacy rate, it is also the time when there is an escalation of the human need for social subsidies, an increase in criminal activities within and outside the country. The instability of many parastatals and poor cooperative governance are some of the things that make people question academic pragmatism in Namibia.

Academic pragmatism and youth

There is no need to discourage enlightenment by any means, however, there is a need to critically interrogate the modus operandi used by scholars and policy makers when it comes to the pragmatic application of education. In my opinion, the academic interests of many academic institutions in Namibia such as University of Namibia (Unam), Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and International University of Management (IUM) should be flexible in order to reflect reality on the ground. This can be seen in the quality of the research produced by the students and in its impact on their lives. Postgraduate student research is meant to be a persuasion and an expansion of knowledge and interest to make an impact in the field. However, it turned out to be a must pass. This is why it is almost unbearable to complete a master’s degree in many high Namibian institutions than in Western universities. Along with this, it is very disturbing to see a professor of business management and entrepreneurship failing to lead an SME and failing miserably at leading a corporate institution. What are you ‘professors’ on my brother if you can’t run a tuck-shop?

The corporate ladder is crowded, as is the civil service ladder, and all educated students are watching how they can fit into the narrow door of job security. Industry innovation and expansion is very low to non-existent. SMEs have been in an incubation center for 10 years and I wonder how one can have an adult baby who can survive free trade. SMEs don’t grow, the reason being that most young entrepreneurs don’t innovate and still apply the basic business skills they learned in college and wouldn’t think beyond. Thus, an SME in an incubation center for more than nine years is an “adult-baby”.


Innovation is driven by research which is driven by the need to be unique and approach the problem from different dimensions to come up with an advanced machine, advanced software or an advanced model that handles the industry better. I happen to have been an observer in the debate between two of my friends over the topic “A sophomore dropout at Harvard University equals a freshman dropout at our state university’s master’s.” It was a difficult subject and I realized that all the debaters were right based on their views. Academic significance is based on what universities encourage students to do in order to reach their full potential. It is necessary to force scientific institutions to produce and present their innovative ideas and if not, it is necessary to revise their scientific approach to achieve the final goal.

The education system must teach the younger generation to think and innovate. There is an urgent need to review the works produced from research done in our native land. Current academicians must be a clear demonstration that what is proposed can be done in the real world. It is important that underlying organizations such as NANSO and SUN join us and question current academic pragmatism and its significance for solutions to the challenges we face. The international relations portfolio in any youth and student structure is very crucial as it connects the institution with others for knowledge sharing to enhance cooperation and innovation in education. Young people must focus on the debates that affect our lives and must be at the forefront of political influence. Issues such as the African Free Trade Agreement, climate change and debates on Africa’s Agenda 2063 will be matters of concern and must be linked to how academic pragmatism will get us where we will be. as expected. Student organizations need to look beyond Fees Must Fall policy to question the quality of education.

Academic pragmatism will give hope to learners entering higher education this year and beyond. In areas where academic pragmatism reigns, society is balanced from a gardener to a theoretician. The environment is not conducive to individuals who excel academically, as most die with their knowledge or use it to work or benefit institutions in other countries. In my opinion, we do not have a direct political problem in our country but we have an economic problem, it shows that where all the scandals occur, whether it is cooperation or the public sector, it is a matter of unequal, lost, stolen or misplaced resources. Mastering the art of resource distribution and innovation as the first point of economic recovery will then allow the energetic, the gifted, the scholars to position themselves in the management of a productive economy. Acquiring and implementing appropriate knowledge will enable our state to develop beyond Singapore, which has an efficient development model, regardless of its few natural resources.

* David Fono Shoombe holds a BA (Hons) in Political Science and History from the University of Namibia. He is an alumnus of Yali in Public Management and Governance.

2022-02-18 Staff reporter


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