Education Bridges Socio-economic Problems: Uugwanga

10 Feb 2017 13:40pm
By Mathias Nanghanda
OSHAKATI, 10 FEB (NAMPA) - Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Namibia (UNAM) Oshakati Campus, Dr Paulina Uugwanga believes developed societies the world over, tap knowledge and wisdom from their learned people.
Uugwanga acknowledged that in a wider aspect, a society is at its best if it accumulates a great number of higher degree holders who can serve as sources of wisdom and thereby provide solutions to barriers to socio-economic development and all aspects of life.
Affectionately known as Mee Kapau, Uugwanga heads the UNAM Oshakati Campus as the Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor since last year.
She played a vital role in the introduction of the Oshakati UNAM Campus' educational programmes such as teachers' diplomas and degrees. Uugwanga also helped design and implement the latest programme called English Access, which is a preparedness course for students who passed Grade 12 but could not obtain a minimum C symbol in English, to study at university level.
In an interview with Nampa at Oshakati recently, she said, like other universities, UNAM strongly requires that its academics obtain PhDs in order to be regarded as research experts and also to boost their teaching and research capacities and international rankings.
Uugwanga has conducted research on the merger between the then Colleges of Education and UNAM as well as on capacity building to improve quality teacher education in Namibia.
Apart from teacher education, Uugwanga’s main focus is on broadening access to higher education for the potential students from poor education backgrounds and remote areas.
She believes tertiary institutions have a social obligation to widen access to those disadvantaged segments of society who, unless otherwise, could not make it on their own.
“Higher education must be made available for all who are potentially and willingly ready to enter into it,” Uugwanga stated, adding that upon entry such students must be supported to succeed.
She is interested in extending post graduate programmes from Windhoek to the regions to help prospective students who have the potential to study without having to relocate to the city.
A renowned female educator in northern Namibia, Uugwanga completed a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Education and Leadership at the Western Cape University in April 2016, in neighbouring South Africa.
She is also a holder of a Master’s degree in Education and Leadership of Higher Institutions from Ohio University, Athens, in the United States of America through an African American Scholarship.
She became a vice-rector of the former Ongwediva College of Education in the Oshana Region after completing the said Master’s degree.
She taught courses like History, Biblical studies, Development Studies, Social Studies and their didactics during her stay at the Ongwediva College of Education.
Uugwanga has now earned herself a long history of leadership and management of higher institution and is one of Namibia’s few renowned female educators at tertiary level.
In this connection, she served as Director of the Oshakati Campus from 2002 until 2016 before becoming an Assistant Pro-Vice Chancellor of that campus.
The Doctorate degree, which Uugwanga obtained, is the highest academic degree awarded by universities worldwide.
Uugwanga, 53, is a family woman, a wife to a school inspector, Nicky Uugwanga of the Oshigambo circuit in the Oshikoto Region. The couple has four children, three sons and a daughter.
She is the first child of educators and community activists, Sylvanus Vatuva, former governor of the Oshana Region, and Helena Vatuva, a retired teacher.
Uugwanga has always remained passionate about furthering her education. After matric in 1982, she went on to attend various institutions starting from the old Academy, today UNAM, in Windhoek.
She obtained a Higher Education Diploma in Education and qualified to teach History and Biblical Studies which were her majors at the Academy.
Uugwanga believes success lies in pushing boundaries and being passionately persistent. Therefore, after teaching for two years in the then Teacher Training College in Ongwediva, she decided to pursue a BA Degree at the Western Cape University in 1989-1990.
As a young student, Uugwanga was involved in the country’s liberation struggle through students’ bodies such as the Namibia National Students' Organisation (Nanso).
During the time of implementation of Resolution 435 of the United Nations, which paved way for the independence of Namibia in 1990, she was part of the political mobilisation.
“In Cape Town we went as Nanso students to hunt down Namibian workers in townships to educate them about the importance of going back home to vote during our first democratic election in 1989,” she explained.
In the early 1980s, Uugwanga was detained by the colonial military forces with other student activists such as Samuel Chief Ankama, Anna Shipiki, Sylvia Mosimane (now Makgone), late Anton Lubowski, Ignatius Shixwameni and George Mayumbelo.