WINDHOEK – The major challenge being experienced in higher education is that the funding allocation to this crucial sector has not been commensurate with the significant growth of programme offerings, student numbers and infrastructural expansion needed at higher education institutions.
In fact, this year marked a budgetary cut exceeding N$700 million in the allocation to tertiary education.
Higher Education, Training and Innovation Minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi revealed this when she motivated the budget for the 2019/20 financial year last week in the National Assembly.
In terms of tertiary funding reduction, the minister said this might impact negatively on the numerous critical skills development courses such as medicine, pharmacy, veterinary sciences, engineering, land studies, logistics and computing that are key drivers for Namibia’s socio-economic development and stability.
The ministry’s total budget requirements for the 2019/20 financial year stand at N$3.1 billion. Out of the N$3.1 billion, an amount of N$25.99 million is earmarked for development projects, while the remaining huge chunk is earmarked for operational activities.
Further, she revealed that with a reduction in study opportunities in the region, in particular in South Africa, Namibia has to develop its programmes in areas critical to her development and this will require investment in infrastructure, laboratory research facilities and an increase in the production of highly qualified human resources.
Therefore, under programme higher education, the ministry aims to increase the number of enrolments on all diploma, degree and postgraduate levels in key human resources categories such as agriculture, natural resources and tourism, education and teacher training, veterinary medicine, engineering, cyber-security, artificial intelligence, basic science and geology from 61 percent in 2018/19 to 70 percent by 2021/22.
Hence, Kandjii-Murangi said the higher education programme needs an amount of N$2.6 billion, which is broken down amongst the implementing institutions and coordinating agencies.
These include the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE)’s allocation of N$2.6 million for capital development, University of Namibia (Unam)’s total allocation of N$911.9 million and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust)’s allocation of N$500 million.
A higher percentage of students were in public higher education institutions (71.9%) and almost half (46.2%) of them were enrolled at Unam.
Meanwhile, Nust successfully placed 1 230 students in work-integrated learning programmes, in addition to signing an unprecedented number of programme agreements during the past year.
Other allocations are the Namibia Qualifications Authority’s N$30.3 million for operational expenses and the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF)’s allocation of N$1.13 billion. The student assistance fund’s allocation is N$500 million short of last year’s allocation.
The Namibia National Student Organisation needs an allocation of N$500 000.
She said the main challenge facing NSFAF is providing financial support to needy students, while the total need for student funding at all levels of post-secondary education and training remains vast and outstrips the available means provided in the national budget.
Furthermore, she noted that student financial assistance remains a challenge in many instances, as partial funding, which is to be topped up by parents and families, remains unattended to.
“For many students, the inadequate financial support means the end of their studies,” she added.
2019-05-02 09:00:29 17 days ago