WINDHOEK - Students at the College of the Arts (Cota) said the critical financial situation at the institution where some lecturers have not received their salaries since August could adversely affect the outcome of the academic exams.
Six part-time teaching staff representing a key teaching component at the college are employed under a contract system at Cota have not been paid for the past five months causing them to withhold students’ exam results.
Cota also delayed its re-opening for the third semester in September, with the dates being postponed and slowing down the normal resumption of learning.
First year Cota student Gospert Kaffer, studying radio production said he is saddened by the fact the only art school in the country is being treated like it is of no significance.
“There has been preaching by politicians that the country is working on minimising high unemployment rate and yet the college’s future is being threatened,” he stressed.
He said the status quo will deprive students undertaking a television and radio production course respectively of the opportunity to obtain their qualification in their respective fields. Furthermore, he said radio students lost a third of their seminars and lectures this semester over the duration of 14 days when affected staff members were on strike over unpaid salaries.
Specifically, he said, the situation puts them in a worrisome state because currently they do not know whether they passed or not and if they will still be able to attend lectures next year.
“It is an uncomfortable position to be in and needs to be sorted out immediately because it is a waste of time and money, to both the students and the lectures,” said Kaffer.
In fact, he is worried about his future and that of other students studying at an institution of arts education. “What will happen to second and final year students if lecturers decide not show up or commence with duties next year due to no remuneration,” he questioned.
Pendukeni Hamukwaya, a designer software lecturer, said they withheld the students’ marks as some kind of guarantee they get paid their salaries.
“Without reports, without graduations, the year will have been a waste of time,” he stated.
He noted the college has been through tough times in the past, adding he understands that government spending is facing cutbacks, stating “so in solidarity we carried on teaching without pay,” adding, “we could have stopped working, but the only ones who would suffer are the students - so we decided to carry on.”
Meanwhile, education permanent secretary Sanet Steenkamp promised the payments will be channelled based on the availability of funds and the release of the monthly ceiling by Ministry of Finance.
“Please rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to address the matter of payments,” she said.
There are four part-time television production lecturers at the college department of media arts and technology studies teaching directing, scriptwriting, editing and camerawork.
Radio production has five lecturers, three of which are full-time and two are part-time.