WINDHOEK – The Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation in consultation with the finance ministry needs to mobilise an additional N$157 million for the existing Namibian Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) budget to honour the contracts of students for boarding and non-tuition costs.
For the 2018/19 financial year, government allocated N$1.45 billion to NSFAF to help meet the fund’s commitment to fund all continuing students and new intakes.
However, the allocated budget seems to be insufficient following higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi recently telling an angry crowd of demonstrating NSFAF-funded students that government is unable to fully pay for their non-tuition fees, hence she called on their parents to top up the shortfall.
NSFAF students found themselves with shortfalls ranging from N$5,000 to N$10,000. NSFAF has a student population contract of about 42,000.
Kandjii-Murangi called on parents to understand the situation and chip in to assist government top up where there is a shortfall.
This funding issue, which has been dragging on for a while, led to the Namibian National Students Organisation (Nanso) and SRCs from various tertiary institutions on Tuesday holding a meeting with Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
Nanso secretary general Simon Taapopi said the purpose of the meeting was to seek intervention from the Office of the Prime Minister to rescue students from the “subjugation” of the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation and NSFAF.
The meeting was attended by stakeholders from the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Ministry of Finance and NSFAF.
At the meeting it was resolved that the ministries of higher education and finance were tasked to consult each other and report back to the student leadership within two weeks on the 80 percent boarding fees and non-tuition costs coverage.
Taapopi said this consultation will be centered on mobilising an additional N$157 million towards the existing NSFAF budget to honour the contracts of students by covering 80 percent towards boarding students and N$21,600 for non-tuition.
It was also resolved that the higher education ministry will write an official communication to institutions of higher learning assuring these institutions that NSFAF will cover 100 percent tuition fees for all students as per the invoices received.
The meeting further resolved that for students who signed the 2018 loan contracts with maximum funding limitation of two years, the contracts will be rectified by NSFAF.
“This process of rectification is expected to commence soon to ensure that all students who have signed, that these contracts are rectified because an uncorrected contract with the two years limitation would be binding, and potentially exclusionary to students who have signed the uncorrected contracts,” Taapopi noted.
Taapopi assured students that Nanso and SRCs continue to advocate the abolishment of predetermined rates for students studying at private colleges, institutions, and implementation of equitable funding policies that are inclusive to all students.
He said Nanso and SRCs continue to have unyielding confidence in the government to address student issues and mentioned special appreciation to the Deputy Minister of Finance Natangwe Iithete for standing on the side of students.
“Comrade Iithete is a former student activist and youth leader and we remain convinced that he has the much-required youthfulness and enthusiasm to assist in the acceleration of the higher education funding and much-needed higher education funding reform,” he reacted.