Students to camp at Finance Ministry offices
By Paulina Ndalikokule
IN RESPONSE TO the Namibia Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF)’s apparent failure to pay both tuition and non-tuition fees since 2017, the newly established Students Union of Namibia (SUN) says it plans to set up camp at the Ministry of Finance today to express their disappointment.
SUN leader Kanepolo Amunime yesterday at a press conference in Windhoek called upon all students and concerned parents, guardians and other sympathisers to join them at the Finance Ministry.
“Everyone must bring along their luggage, bedding, cooking pots and all their other essentials to the ministry’s offices so that we stay there because we have nowhere to go. It is better to live for something than live for nothing,” Amunime said.
He said students have made repeated efforts to get their outstanding fees by writing many petitions to the Higher Education Ministry, NSFAF and the Finance Ministry but their efforts were in vain.
The students say they are owed outstanding fees for tuition and non-tuition expenses for the past three years, with thousands of students’ non-tuition fees not fully paid in 2017, while both fees were unpaid in 2018 for some students, leaving many students with fees still outstanding this year.
Government this year allocated the Ministry of Higher Education N$3.1 billion and about N$9.4 billion over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, of which N$1.1 billion was earmarked for NSFAF.
NSFAF chief human capital officer Olavi Hamwele last month announced that the Fund had decided to pay N$10,000 towards non-tuition fees per student. Although some students received N$10, 000, many still did not receive anything, which left them indebted for school fees and rent.
“Currently, University of Namibia students who stay in hostel cannot access their results because they owe Emona and other hostels a lot of money. Some students also made arrangements with their landlord to pay end of the year when NSFAF refunds them and a majority of students are stranded in towns, without a clue on how they will make it to their respective villages,” Amunime said.
He added that they want to amend NSFAF policy, which does not allow funding for students studying at private institutions, adding that it was not fair that first-year students were forced to pay registration fees as opposed to providing a mere acknowledgement letter from NSFAF at registration points.
“We are not even sure whether NSFAF will be able to fund first-year students in the 2020 academic year, as the Ministry of Finance continues to provide inadequate funds,” he said. He added that they want NSFAF to allocate funding for postgraduate students. Earlier this year the Fund rejected some postgraduate students because their choices of study were not priority courses.