12 Oct 2015 08:10am
RUNDU, 12 OCT (NAMPA) The University of Namibia (UNAM) Vice-Chancellor, Professor Lazarus Hangula says as institution of higher education UNAM is challenged to position itself to partner with government in the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Hangula made the remarks in a statement read on his behalf by the Director of UNAMs Rundu Campus, Gilbert Likando on Friday during the universitys Research and Innovation Day.
The UNAM Research and Innovation Day is an event celebrated annually at all campuses throughout the country.
The event also serves to celebrate and showcase UNAMs research and innovation achievements for the year preceding the event.
The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), of which UNAM is a member, believes that higher education institutions are uniquely placed to help address global challenges not only through informing policy with research evidence, but also through graduating generations of new leaders and skilled professionals to spearhead the development agenda, Likando said.
He explained that UNAM takes note of the challenging task ahead, given that the new SDGs have raised the bar, not just by being more in number than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but also in that they seek to meet 169 targets.
Covering the next 15 years, the SDGs replace the MDGs, which expired last month. There are 17 SDGs as opposed to the eight MDGs.
These amongst others include ending poverty in all its forms; achieving gender equality; ensuring access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all; reducing inequality amongst countries; and taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
United Nations (UN) member states are expected to use the SDGs to form their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years.
Hangula said in its September 2015 Report, the ACU noted that there is a clear requirement for the specific skills and expertise that universities can provide in establishing, monitoring, and measuring progress against the SDG indicators.
UNAM, as Namibias premier university, prides itself on such expertise and I would like to reiterate our commitment to partner with our government and all stakeholders to solve the challenges faced by our society, including poverty, climate change, unemployment, diseases, and environmental degradation, among others, he added.
Hangula noted that groundbreaking research is being undertaken at the institution in malaria research; indigenous knowledge systems; pharmacology; biotechnology; space science; fisheries and agriculture; climate change; gender-related issues, HIV/Aids and other diseases; food science; and many other fields.
He said this has resulted in a significant increase in research papers published in highly regarded and accredited journals, indicating the high quality of the research being conducted at UNAM.
I am very happy to report that our academics have surpassed the research output targets that we set for ourselves in the current strategic plan, he noted.
The Vice-Chancellor further indicated that the number of research proposals submitted internally for research funding to the Research and Publications Committee (RPC) has significantly increased.
The average approval rate of proposals for funding is about 33 per cent, which compares very well with major high-level international funders.
The National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) is currently funding 36 UNAM research projects covering a number of national priority areas identified in the National Programme on Research, Science, Technology and Innovation (NPRSTI).
Hangula said in 2014, production of scholarly outputs increased by close to four per cent compared to in 2013.
Of the 460 research outputs produced, about 43 per cent were refereed journal papers, 50 per cent were conference papers and the rest were books and chapters in books.