On Wednesday, 14 September 2016, the UN System in Namibia visited the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) for the Public Dialogue: 2016 International Education Day regarding the theme of ‘ensuring international cooperation to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.
Before the dialogue started, students and lecturers read through United Nations publications at an exhibit run by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek. The UNIC Windhoek Team displayed publications from various UN Agencies that work in Namibia in an effort to enlighten the public about the United Nations, its work specifically in Namibia and its efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through diverse projects.
Scores of curious students and lecturers visited the exhibition, and many students picked up publications that related to their fields of study in order to assist in achieving their individual education goals and to increase their knowledge. Other students inquired about the requirements necessary to intern at the various UN agencies located in Namibia, sharing their goals of working for the United Nations.
Then, the auditorium quickly filled up with people and Professor Tjama Tjivikua, the NUST Vice-Chancellor, opened the dialogue. Stressing the importance of education and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 Quality Education, he said, “Every day is Education Day because every day we learn something.”
Students, who had taken part in NUST’s exchange programme, then shared their experience and noted the importance of international exchange opportunities and how knowledge they gained from these experiences helped them to become global citizens.
Ms. Ruska Paronen, an exchange student from Finland explained that she has learned a lot from being in a new country and talking with her peers, saying that ‘learning by discussion’ has been extremely beneficial to her learning experience in Namibia. Mr. Chasi Tanaswa Benevolence, a student who studied on exchange in Germany, discussed the technology he learned about while abroad which will assist him in engineering a greener Namibia in the future.
The dialogue then moved to a discussion on the importance of Sustainable Development, with Dr. Zivayi Chiguvare discussing NUST’s implementation of Goal 7. Mentioning the Paris Agreement as well as how world leaders will meet for the 71st session of the General Assemby, he explained that NUST is united with the United Nations in its efforts to combat climate change as it has introduced various programmes that educate students about sustainable energy. These programmes aim to prepare young professionals for careers through which they work towards achieving access to clean and affordable energy for all people.
The UNRC to Namibia Ms. Kiki Gbeho then spoke about the role of higher learning in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Ms. Gbeho said, “I am sure that you are all aware that Namibia is still characterized by sharp disparities in terms of energy access between urban and rural areas. The electrification rate for urban households was estimated to be around 70%, whereas for rural households, it has only reached about 25 % in 2011.”
She continued, “To close this gap the academic, research, and business communities need to join hands. The NUST hosts the Namibia Energy Institute (NEI) that is appropriate to lead and model a research area.”
The UNRC stressed the important role tertiary institutions play in achieving the SDGs, and reiterated the United Nations support. “The UN is well placed to share knowledge, disseminate global best practice and support the process of strengthening partnerships and developing catalytic solutions to national challenges,” she said.
Following the dialogue, the public once again visited UNIC Windhoek’s exhibition. After many of the publications and informative pamphlets had been distributed, the UNIC Windhoek team gave the remaining few items to the NUST lecturers to be displayed in the campus library.