Albertina Nakale Windhoek-The Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO) has welcomed the re-integration of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) back to the Ministry of Higher Education as of next year. This follows months of strained relationship between NSFAF management and its board, which has resulted in President Hage Geingob intervening and deciding that the fund return back to the Ministry of Higher Education as was previously the case. The institution has been marred by a tainted relationship between its CEO Hilya Nghiwete and the board chair Patty Karuaihe-Martin. The two do not see eye to eye and Nghiwete even went as far as reporting the matter to the Higher Education Minister, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi. The bid to control the Fund seems to be behind the board chair and CEO’s fight. NANSO secretary general, Simon Taapopi, on Thursday said the announcement justified their long-held view that NSFAF is not managed in the best interest of the students and public at large. NANSO has, on numerous occasions, raised concerns over the operations of NSFAF, which has failed the majority of students in many accounts such as delay in the processing of new applications; recalling of award letters; delayed payments to institutions of higher learning as well as lack of institutional management, transparency and accountability. “We thus call upon President Hage Geingob to establish a commission to undertake a study into the feasibility of fee-free higher tertiary education with student accommodation and abolishment of registration fees as terms of reference,” Taapopi noted. He said they made this call after realising that the annual increase of fees continues to exclude more students from accessing tertiary education. He stated that NANSO shall continue to advocate for access to higher education, and remain critical of the state of higher education. He added that NANSO is committed to rebuild, realign and reunite the revolutionary students’ movement to respond to the needs of all students across Namibia. Kandjii-Murangi, who last week joined President Geingob during the end-of-year review media conference, revealed that the Head of State had intervened and taken a bold decision to cease the fund from being a State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) and return it to a directorate under the ministry. This decision comes days after Rally for Democracy and Progress’ Mike Kavekotora proposed that the line ministry take over the management of NSFAF and place it under a separate management board not to disadvantage students, and fire the current board for mismanagement, negligence and corruption. “Comrade President in your own wisdom, you made it clear that NSFAF will come back as a directorate within the Ministry of Higher Education. We are ready come 2018, we have everything to ensure there is efficiency and proper transparency,” Kandji-Murangi revealed yesterday during a televised event. NSFAF provides financial assistance, by way of loans, to needy full-time Namibian students enrolled at recognised higher learning institutions. According to the latest Fund audit report, the institution failed to account for more than N$2.7 billion between 2009 and 2010. When asked what prompted government to take such a decision, the minister said since its establishment, there have been good developments and progress. However, she said, there were also challenges which called for introspection. “As someone who is overseeing NSFAF, there was a need for investigation and introspection and I believe it came out that it's better it reverts back to the ministry,” she noted, without giving the exact reasons for the Fund’s return. Regarding employees’ fate, she said a proper assessment will be done to iron out crucial issues such as salaries, saying once fully integrated back to the ministry, salaries will be similar to those offered to any civil servant. NSFAF is a loan scheme, which was designed to replace the Public Service bursary scheme, whose purpose was to train people to work solely in the civil service.
New Era Reporter
2017-12-18 08:59:47 11 months ago