Omatako - Lapses in the administration of a programme that was supposed to uplift marginalised students have left a supposed beneficiary in limbo and on the verge of losing his job.
Kudumo Hausiku, a young San man from the dusty settlement of Omatako situated in the Tsumkwe constituency, has traversed a seemingly endless journey of challenges but today proudly teaches at the local primary school after completing a diploma in education.
However, this might change soon as he cannot produce the piece of paper that shows he has completed his course as the University of Namibia (Unam) wants its pound of flesh.
“I’m done with my studies, and now I’m facing the problem that the programme did not pay for my tuition fees. Unam says if the office doesn’t pay, they will not give me my qualification,” said 28-year-old Hausiku.
He narrated that he has been knocking on every door, searching further for opportunities and brainstorming on how to come up with N$54 000 so that he can try and pay it off himself.
Without his qualification, he loses his contract, which expires in December. The school will be forced to advertise his position, and without a qualification, he will miss the opportunity to reapply.
He is now desperate as time is running out.
“Don’t go to school and later come back and sit where I’m sitting. Because this life that I’m facing is not an easy life, and I don’t want this life for you guys”, were the words from his parents that rang loudly at the back of 28-year-old Hausiku’s mind throughout his life. The oldest of seven children, Hausiku and his siblings, unlike many other San children, were encouraged and motivated to pursue their education by their parents. Both are farmworkers.
Growing up in a poor family and a marginalised community at that, he realised early on that his dream of becoming a pilot or an accountant would be difficult to achieve. Having finished Grade 12 in 2015 at the Rooiduin Secondary School in Aranos, he returned to the area to look for opportunities and did odd jobs.
In 2017, an opportunity arose under the Office of the Prime Minister’s programme to assist marginalised communities. Hausiku became a recipient of the programme, and was able to pursue a diploma in junior primary education at Unam.
“I was lucky. In 2020, I started working here at the school on contract,” he said, and with a hint of pride added that he graduated in April this year. “I wanted to come back and also empower other San children, to show them that education is very important,” he added.
But sadness, frustration and helplessness can be heard in his voice.
Muhona Ngurare, the principal of the Omatako Primary School, explained how the school board and the school sympathised with Hausiku, and had extended his contract. But unfortunately, with pressure from the ministry, the post will need to be advertised.
“He needs his papers,” said Ngurare.
According to Hausiku, the programme under the Division Marginalised Communities (DMC) only sponsored the group in 2017, as “they gave us money for books, meals as well as tuition and hostel fees.
“But from 2018, we were suffering. I was sitting in class with other children who were smelling nice, having nice clothes,” recounted Hausiku. He furthermore explained how they had one meal a day, being forced to ration their breakfast just to survive.
This is something that explains the high dropout rate among San students in the programme. Many wanted to finish, but the lack of psychosocial support, peer pressure, the lack of support from back home, and just the constant suffering and struggling were too much to bear.
“We come to study with a scholarship, but we were still suffering. What is the use? It is better to go back and suffer with my parents at home,” Hausiku said were the sentiments of many of the San students who dropped out. The university made provision for the marginalised students to write their exams throughout, but if the outstanding fees weren’t paid, they wouldn’t get their qualifications.
When contacted, the Office of the Prime Minister indicated that the DMC no longer falls under their mandate, but was moved to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare in 2018. Unam failed to provide information when New Era contacted them for comment, having already sent questions to the institution’s spokesperson last week.
The ministry said they scrutinise invoices once received from institutions in relation to the number of students enrolled at a particular institution and statements provided, and are therefore waiting for Unam to issue an invoice of outstanding balances for scrutiny before the payment is effected.
Niita Iipinge, the director of poverty eradication programmes and coordination in the ministry of poverty eradication and social welfare, said “while we sympathise with those students who were unable to graduate to date due to non-payments, the ministry would like to assure these students that their predicament will be resolved. The ministry has been in constant communication with Unam, and have recently received a positive response. This issue will be addressed soon.”
The ministry has for the 2021/2022 financial year managed to settle outstanding tuition and accommodation bills to Unam to the tune of N$11 862 485.60 in February and March.
“After effecting the payments, our office started receiving communications from several students enquiring about the payment of their tuition fees. Thus, the DMC started communicating with the respective institutions over such payments”, Iipinge added.
However, that’s cold comfort for Hausiku.
“The community and the children know I went to UNAM, and if one day I’m unemployed, the parents and children will ask: what is the use? They will finish and come back and sit at home,” he said worriedly.
Hausiku wants and needs to be an inspiration and a success story not only for the children, but the community at large. Other teachers at the school are touched by his story, and fear that he would be further disadvantaged if he lost his only source of income.
Caption: (teacher.jpg) In limbo… Kudumo Hausiku is a lower primary school teacher, here with the San learners he wishes to inspire.
Photo: Emmency Nuukala