Research body launches plan

WINDHOEK: The National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) will not deny or prohibit a researcher from conducting any analysis in Namibia.

This assurance was given by the chairperson of the NCRST, Professor Andre du Pisani during the launching of the commission’s website as well as its strategic plan for the period 2014/2015 to 2018/2019 on Wednesday.

“We will not deny any individual to carry out any research, or invade your space. We want things to happen, and will facilitate those things to happen. We want to make Namibia and Namibians great,” he stressed.

Civil society organizations have expressed reservations about Government’s decision to establish the NCRST, and called for the reversal of the research regulations which established the NCRST. They claimed that these regulations placed unacceptable restrictions on academic freedom enshrined in the Namibian Constitution, limit creative thinking, create uncertainty around research carried out by NGOs, researchers and institutions of higher learning, and also introduced far-reaching restrictions.

However, Du Pisani said the commission is guided by the principles of openness and transparency, and strives to further value-based behaviour, engaging and relating, decision-making and action and have thus adopted the values of integrity; pro-activeness; and passion for excellence.

About the targets of the NCRST, Du Pisani indicated that it is time for Namibia to gear herself to becoming globally competitive and strengthen her national systems of innovation to meaningfully contribute to socio-economic development.

Although some date might not be that reliable, the commission will take stock of the current research, science, technology and innovation landscape, and work with all stakeholders to change the status quo through the implementation of the three national research, science, technology and innovation programmes for 2014/2015 to 2016/2017.

This programme will be finalized and launched in the next few months.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Dr David Namwaandi said at the same occasion that the NCRST should facilitate the establishment of a framework which would create linkages amongst all actors in research, science, technology and innovation.

“The NCRST cannot and should not play its role in isolation. There is a need for meaningful collaboration and consultation between the NCRST and other stakeholders,” he stated.

NCRST Chief Executive Officer Dr Eino Mvula then boasted that the commission has lived up to its expectations, amidst staff shortages. Some of the major achievements included the finalization of the review of research proposals for funding; the development of funding mechanisms to support the administration of the research fund; and the issuance of the first call for research, science, technology and innovation programmes with stakeholders’ consultation, which is at an advanced state.

The NCRST is a state-owned enterprise (SOE) established in terms of the Research, Science and Technology Act, 2004 (Act no. 23 of 2004), tasked with the promotion, coordination and development of research, science, technology and innovation in the country.