Thursday, August 30, 2012

Namibia: Cuban Engineering Degrees 'Useless'

Namibia: Cuban Engineering Degrees 'Useless'
Tagged: Business, Labour, Namibia, Southern Africa
By Selma Shipanga, 30 August 2012

NAMIBIAN engineering graduates with qualifications from Cuban
universities say they are struggling to register with the Engineering
Council of Namibia (ECN) because their qualifications apparently do not
meet the required standards.

The graduates, whose six-year study courses in Cuba were paid for by the
Ministry of Education, say they have been unable to get jobs because
employers require them to be registered with the ECN.

The ECN is the statutory body which regulates the engineering profession.

The graduates all have bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and
have been back in Namibia since last April. Some are only temporarily
employed, while others are jobless.

The graduates told The Namibian that they were informed by the ECN that
their qualifications were unknown and had to be assessed first.

Such assessments by the ECN are based on the ECN Standards which have
been developed to ensure conformity with the requirements of the
Washington Accord, Sydney Accord and Dublin Accord in all three
registration categories. These standards have also been endorsed by the
Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA). Registration is a two-part
process and is based on academic qualification and practical experience.

The ECN has since told the graduates that their qualification "does not
meet the standards for professional degrees in engineering".

In email correspondence with one of the graduates, Fillipus Nandiinotya,
the ECN informed him that "the outcome of the assessment has found that
your qualification has some major shortcomings in several core parts of
an engineering education and does not meet the requirements for
registration as an engineer in training."

The same is the case for Johannes Kauko Penda Negonga, Erikson
Nghiitwikwa and Johannes Hifikepunje Kandjungulume.

The graduates said when they decided to go and study engineering in Cuba
six years ago, it was in response to the Namibian government's call for
more qualified engineers and its promises of jobs upon their return.

The government recently recruited 15 expatriates from Zimbabwe in the
fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, quantity
surveying and architecture.

The Cuban graduates call this move "a slap in the face", saying that
they are disappointed in a government that called on them to go and
study for six years, but then turned around and gave jobs to Zimbabwean

The government is said to be struggling to implement capital projects
because of a lack of skilled professionals.

"Obviously I feel bad, irritated and victimised by circumstances that I
have no control over. These delays for registering are delaying
everything in our lives. We can't get any proper or permanent jobs
because the employers are asking for the engineer-in-training
registration proof and we don't have that. We keep telling the employers
we are working on that until they are fed up and kick us out," said

The ECN last week told The Namibian that it needed time to answer
questions submitted to it.

The questions included what the reason is for the delay, what
engineering graduates need to do to get registered, and whether the same
problems are faced by graduates who studied in countries other than Cuba.

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