Fewer boys graduating from Unam

• By Confidente Reporter

A worried University of Namibia (Unam) Vice Chancellor, Professor Kenneth Matengu, asked this recently while presenting the state of the university report to students, staff and stakeholders. Matengu’s presentation painted a picture of progress from the last 30 years but with one glaring concern: the persistent gender disparity in student enrollments and graduations.  His worry stems from the fact that male enrolments and graduations have been significantly lower than their female counterparts for the past three decades. The state of the university report covered the period between 1992, when the university was established, to 2022.

According to Matengu, between 1992 and 2022, UNAM witnessed a remarkable increase in student enrolment and graduation. The number of students who graduated in 1992 was a modest 601, but by 2022, this figure had surged to 4 502, reflecting a substantial rise in the university’s output, showing a growing appetite for higher education in Namibia.  In terms of gender representation among graduates, a concerning pattern emerges, however. Over the same period, 1992 to 2022, female students have consistently outpaced their male counterparts in both enrolments and graduations.  Female graduates constituted 66 percent of the 60 221 total graduates, while males accounted for only 34 percent.

He expressed concern about the disparity, labelling it a grave concern. “What is going on, men? We cannot claim that they (men) are farming. They cannot be farming because we have food security challenges. So, where are the men?” Matengu queried.

He attributed the low graduation of men to the underperformance and under participation of boys in schools. “It is a very, very serious issue. Not because we feel women are being advantaged, no. When we say education for all, we mean for all. Efforts to correct this should not be at the expense of the females,” Matengu cautioned. Referring to a UNAM research report on the underperformance of boys in schools, Matengu said it indicates that boys find school boring and see no need to attend because they want to get rich fast. “You see the paradox. It tells you boys have the wrong role models, the quick money makers. We have to address this issue.”