NSFAF gadgets assistance to continue after Covid

By Tracy Tafirenyika

THE Minister of Higher Education Itah Kandjii-Murangi, has said that the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) will continue to assist students in need with mobile internet devices as well as laptops post Covid-19.

Although she highlighted that the current initiative which is set to distribute up to 28 000 internet devices at a subsidised cost is a once off initiative, the minister noted that students in need going forward, particularly first years, will have the option to acquire these gadgets with the assistance of NSFAF.

“Covid-19 has allowed us to think in innovative ways and to think out of the box and this has changed the way we want to be able to help our students.

“The support with laptops and connectivity gadgets has to be an annual thing for incoming first years even after Covid-19. But this very project that we are launching today covers everyone who is in need, wherever they are and whatever year of study, which means this will be a once off thing,” she said.

At the same event held at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) NSFAF acting Chief Executive Officer, Kennedy Kandume explained the main reason for the initiative:

“Our presence is a testimony that Covid-19 support to students is real. Many students cannot afford the cost of data to access platforms and educational resources and ICT infrastructure (including servers and storage devices) at institutions and cannot cope with the volume of courses or programmes and supporting materials to be uploaded.

“In order to mitigate the above, the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation through the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund will avail funds for this purpose. The Namibia University of Science and Technology received N$2.2 million for upgrading of its servers and storage facility, and NUST has indeed confirmed that servers and storage facility were installed.

“The University of Namibia received N$5.8 million for the same purpose, and I understand the installation of servers and storage at the University of Namibia will start soonest. The University of Namibia received more as it is expected to provide access to other institutions of higher learning, mostly private institutions. As for the supplier of laptops, we have completed the bid evaluation process last week and we are in the process of signing a contract/agreement with successful suppliers,” he explained.

Kandume furthermore explained that the expectation for the laptops to be in Namibia is by end of October to early November.

“As for the supplier of portable internet devices, this is what brought us here today to witness the official handing over of 2 000 internet devices to students at NUST, part of the 28 000 internet devices acquired through Telecom Namibia at the cost of N$19.3 million,” he said.