• August 15th, 2020

Minister assures support to international students

Higher education minister Itah Kandji-Murangi said she has asked the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) to provide further support to Namibian students studying in Ukraine amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The minister said no Namibian student should endure suffering during the Covid-19 pandemic simply because they are privately funded. 

The students had petitioned President Hage Geingob to address their plight in a recently authored letter. They had written to Geingob and NSFAF during the coronavirus lockdown, requesting for additional funding to buy data for online classes, protective gear and food. As of yesterday, Ukraine had 18 876 cases and 548 Covid-19 deaths. 

The students, who preferred anonymity, said they have been on lockdown since April, forcing universities to conduct classes online. Some of the students claimed they were skipping lessons due to unaffordability. They also told New Era prices of basic commodities have gone up, especially food prices, which have tripled over the past few months. 

The students added they could no longer afford to buy data or buy protective gear to protect themselves from Covid-19. The students said they are highly exposed to the virus because the hostel cleaners come in every day to clean their hostels. “We still have classes but some students miss them due to lack of internet. We don’t have Wi-Fi in the hostel. We pay for our Wi-Fi or data – there is nothing for free. We need gloves, masks and disinfectants,” the students stated. 

“We have emailed the Office of the President (on 6 March) and they didn’t respond. We emailed NSFAF and they said they don’t have money. They didn’t give us anything positive. We are going through the most because our parents have not been working and are still not working, as not all vendors are allowed to trade yet.” 

Presidency spokesperson Alfredo Hengari yesterday said the President forwarded the matter to the line minister to deal with it. Kandji-Murangi confirmed the President referred the matter to her. “After the matter was referred to me, I called our ambassador [Clemens] Kashuupulwa and he said the critical needs of the students were food items because the prices have gone up. After telling NSFAF to act on this, I said ‘I know you will go through your board but we need to see how these students would be assisted’,” she told New Era yesterday. 
Kandji-Murangi said this matter was discussed and a position has been arrived at, although she didn’t get anything formal from NSFAF. Attempts to get comment from NSFAF acting CEO Kennedy Kandume proved futile as his phone rang unanswered. 
– sikela@nepc.com.na

Selma Ikela
2020-05-20 10:02:29 | 2 months ago

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