Lahja Nashuua Windhoek-The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) is set to establish a students’ organisation purportedly to plug the gaps that are currently ignored by the Namibia National Student Organisation (Nanso) amidst the shortcomings prevailing in the country’s education system. The Landless People’s Movement Students Command Element, as the organization will be called, will be the second student body since independence and will fall under the auspices of the LPM, the brainchild of former lands deputy minister Clinton Swartbooi. The LPM was launched in 2015 and claims, among others, to advocate the return of ancestral land to the indigenous people. One of the organisers of the Landless People’s Movement Students Command Element, Duminga Kakuhu Ndala, confirmed this development, saying the mooted student body is not intended to replace Nanso but rather to give students a second affiliate option, so that students can associate themselves with the student movement of their choice. “We are not competing with Nanso, but we feel that Nanso has failed to deal with students’ problems and we as students need a student body that will meet students’ expectations and address their concerns,” Ndala said. She singled out high tuition fees, the lack of accommodation, transport woes among students and the lack of money to buy books as the major issues that Nanso has failed to address. She further said the new planned students’ movement would also press for free education across the board, up to tertiary level. “Currently our education is not free at all. Most of the schools have made it a must that parents contribute certain amounts of money, as well as buy stationery, which turns out to be more expensive than the school development fund fees that parents have been paying in the past. We don’t think that’s the meaning of free education that our late former minister of education Abraham Iyambo was advocating for,” she said. She disagrees with the government’s stance that there are no funds, stressing that Namibia is very rich in mineral resources such as diamonds, gold, uranium and copper that could be sold for profit, and that all that the government needs to do is invest its resources in education. Ndala, who is a fourth-year student in public management at the University of Namibia (Unam), maintained that the new future students’ movement has so far won the hearts of many students in the country and will not only accommodate members of the LPM but all students, regardless of their political affiliation. Ndala, a political science major, said that if she is accorded an opportunity to serve in the Namibian parliament one day she would continue to campaign for the welfare of students, as well as for land. “I will try to make sure that the country does away with the colonial education curriculum and ensure that the curriculum matches the job market and benefits people on the ground. We need an education curriculum that speaks of issues on the ground, an education system that speaks of the present and future, and not the history,” she said. With regard to the land issue, Ndala said the government needs to get rid of some of the laws and policies that are barriers to land redistribution and serviced land delivery. “Of course, the government has tried but most of its programmes have failed. The willing-seller, willing-buyer policy has failed and made rich people richer, as only those that can afford keep owning more land, while other means of availing land, such as mass housing, have also not met expectations,” she said. Meanwhile, Nanso said there is nothing wrong with having more students’ movements in the country as long as all of them serve the interests of students. “Namibia is a democratic county and in a democracy there is freedom of association, therefore Nanso doesn’t see anything wrong with more students’ bodies being formed and we look forward to work with them in the interest of students,” said Shoki Sikongo, secretary general of Nanso for Khomas Region. Sikongo referred to South African universities where almost every political party has its own student body on campus. “The unique part is that they are united. As such, I want to urge the LPM’s movement to do the same,” Sikongo said. He however strongly condemned the LPM’s accusations that Nanso is a white elephant and that it has failed to address the plight of students. “Nanso did not fail, that should not be the spirit. The spirit should be to unite and engage one another in order to address solutions on issues we as students are faced with. Nanso has lots of success stories to relate – we advocated the abolishment of registration fees, if one is funded by government, and it was implemented. We are fighting, and we will continue fighting, to ensure the welfare of students are addressed,” he said.
2018-01-18 09:03:09 8 months ago