WINDHOEK - The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) on Wednesday met President Hage Geingob to present him with a detailed document on urgent contemporary issues, challenges and concerns currently being experienced by students and trainees.
The document is informed by thematic areas, mainly on tertiary education financing, service delivery, inclusivity, infrastructure development, quality of higher education and contemporary social issues.
The document follows the outcomes of the Nanso Student Representative Council (SRC) from which they created a platform that bridged the gap between the various student representative bodies and capacitated student leaders of the various institutions of higher learning.
Nanso spokesperson Simon Taapopi said the same platform also facilitated rich debate, discussions, opinions and notes from higher education stakeholders on student matters and concerns.
He explained that the outcomes resulted in resolutions that gave birth to the national students’ discussion document which they aimed to develop into a charter – a manifesto document which encompasses the immediate needs, ideals and aspirations of students.
According to him, this document generally speaks on issues of equity, accessibility, land for student accommodation, decolonising and digitising the academic curriculum, tuition fees regulation among other issues.
Taapopi noted the forum further charged student leaders and activists to urgently and unapologetically advocate without fear or favour the document with key stakeholders, civil society, policymakers and government leadership.
He revealed that it is for that reason that the Nanso national executive committee together with the University of Namibia (Unam) SRC and Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) SRC on Wednesday had a meeting with President Geingob to present the document and bring to his attention the urgent contemporary issues, challenges and concerns currently being experienced by students and trainees.
He said the meeting came at the most opportune time when a national crisis was declared by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF)’s inability to cater for and assist more than 12 000 first years, qualified and eligible students, in need of funding to access and pursue their studies.
With the current budget allocation of N$1.138 billion, NSFAF is only able to fund study loans of 2 925 new applicants, out of 24 739 applications received.
Although 9 650 of the received applications did not meet the funding requirements, 15 087 applicants did qualify for assistance.
Continuing students are to be funded to the tune of N$1.076 billion, the fund said. NSFAF says the budget allocated to it falls short of N$641 million.
“Indeed, dear students, the question of NSFAF being unsustainable and now proving unreliable is one that indeed validates our long-held view for the need to lead and transform the higher education sector into a free tertiary education system for all by transforming all study loans into scholarship grants and by clearing off all student or graduate debts,” he noted.
On this national matter which Nanso considers as a grave concern for all Namibians, the student body resolved to a meeting set for next week with Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein, Minister of Higher Education Dr Ita Kandjii-Murangi and NSFAF in order to urgently arrest and find a logical and permanent solution.
“As usual details and outcomes of the engagements shall be communicated. We, therefore, call on students to remain alert and calm as fruitful outcomes in favour of all students will be produced,” he said.
Nanso’s discussion document also calls for a national fund to be set up for vocational training centre (VTC) graduates to assist in kick-starting local businesses that will support and operate in the local communities.
Taapopi explained that Nanso has noted that the government has a budget allocation this financial year that makes provision for and ensures the funding of VTC graduates and trainees to empower and kick-start their own busines.
He says this is an effort that will contribute to economic revival and development of the nation by creating employment opportunities. He, therefore, calls on VTC graduates and trainees to get ready to work and build the country.
2019-05-27 10:40:41 22 days ago