I am compelled by two reasons to write this letter to you, dear NSFAF beneficiaries. Firstly, I am consciously bound to finish what I once championed for. During my studies at Unam, I championed for the call for the government study loans for all needy students at tertiary institutions.
I saw learners crying because they were told that they would not sit for their exams because of outstanding tuition fees. I witnessed the struggle of a student who once footed from Katutura to varsity. He narrated his story to me that he was solely depending on his grandmother’s state old-age pension funds.
He would later secure a Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) loan that helped him. He was doing geology and later studied for mine engineering in Zambia. He is a now a qualified mining engineer. I am proud of him.
Not only that I wrote about it, but I also had an opportunity to address it directly to the late Dr Abraham Iyambo, the then minister of education. I was condemned by some student activists apparently for supporting the cause that will indebt the NSFAF beneficiaries, instead of calling for government bursaries for all. I should say it without claiming any glory that my efforts then partly contributed to the establishment of NSFAF regional offices in all the directorates of education all over Namibia.
The main aim was/is for all needy students to have easy access to apply for the funds in their own regions. We should commend our government for that. Secondly, I am deeply touched by the plight of students who recently held a supposedly peaceful demonstration over their refunds.
It was heartbreaking to see those learners being tear–gassed by police officers. I heard them screaming and assuring the police officers that they were not criminals. I also saw on TV how some students kneeled down before police officers, a sign of surrendering themselves to the authority. Yes, they might have crossed the line with the police in one way or the other, but the main point cannot be wished away. They are needy students. All they want is financial support to make ends meet as students. And then I asked myself, the whereabouts of employed NSFAF beneficiaries-defaulters. These suffering students need your support.
They need the money that you are not paying back. Remember dear beneficiaries that the majority of you including myself could have not made it financially at universities without NSFAF loans. You know that struggle of being a student, the struggle of not having taxi fares, the struggle of going for a day on empty stomach and as if that is not worse enough, the struggle of going to bed on empty stomach or luckily on half full stomach. You know the struggle of rental fares.
Thus all of us who benefited from NSFAF and are employed should pay back the money. Are we ungrateful beneficiaries? I do not think so. You should be caring of others. We should be each other’s keepers. Where is your sense of UBUNTU dear compatriots?
Kindly put invalid excuses aside such as you are paying taxes and that politicians are also eating, thus you are not paying back. Please fulfill your contractual obligations in order to help the needy students. The current NSFAF records have it that more than 58 000 students have benefited from the fund since its inception in 1997.
However, it is worrisome that as we speak NSFAF beneficiaries owe the fund more than N$740 million. Dear compatriots, just honour your contract with NSFAF in order to sustain the fund. In accordance with the provisions of clause 20(a) and (b) of the agreement between yourself and the State, you are liable for repayment of the loan, six months after completion of your studies at half percentage of the current prime rate. Only in case, you are employed. Thank you for heeding my clarion call to help the needy students
Salomo Mekondjo Nambinga Community Activist