• November 21st, 2018
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NSFAF budget insufficient for new intakes

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Front Page News

Albertina Nakale Windhoek With the allocated N$1.45 billion financial resources for 2018/19, Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) says they are confident they will be able to meet the fund’s commitment to fund all continuing students but the budget will not be sufficient to cover new intakes. NSFAF CEO Hilya Nghiwete said the fund is committed to ensure its obligations to students for 2018/19 would be within the allocated amount of N$1.45 billion and will therefore firstly engage the shareholder before new awards are made for 2018/19. For 2018, she revealed NSFAF has not yet issued any awards as it needed to establish the financial commitment to continuing students in order to determine the funds that would be available for the new intake. Further, she noted there are planned engagements between the board and the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi regarding the NSFAF funding for students in 2018. Nghiwete said the finalisation of the award process for 2018 will only be done once that consultation has taken place. “The fund is committed to ensure that it only provides financial assistance to students within the available financial resources,” she added. During the 2017 application process, she explained an extensive marketing campaign was launched to ensure that all applicants are given an opportunity to apply for financial assistance from NSFAF through online application. As a result, she revealed, there was an overwhelming increase in the number of applications (about 25,762) received, which is 13 percent higher when compared to the 22,858 applications received in 2016. According to her, the number of students who met the requirements and are eligible for financial assistance was also significant higher than in previous years. Since the funding received in 2017/18 was limited to only about N$963 million, she said the fund faced some challenges in terms of determining who among the applicants meeting the requirements should be funded and who should not be funded. “This is due to the fact that the current award of loans, grant and scholarship policy does not empower management to limit the number of applicants to be provided financial assistance, as all applicants meeting eligibility criteria owed to be funded,” she said. Going forward, Nghiwete said NSFAF initiated a review of the financial assistance policy approved by the board and submitted to the minister for approval. The new policy introduces some improvement as far as eligibility for financial assistance is concerned. The policy further provides for the allocation of resources for different levels of study and the use of a competitive ranking of applicants in order of scores based on the selection criteria which will ensure that NSFAF only provides financial assistance to eligible Namibians on a competitive basis depending on the available financial resources. New Era also wanted to find out how NSFAF will operationalise President Hage Geingob’s 2016 call to move away from the study loan scheme to a system of grants. Nghiwete could only say, “I am happy to inform you that the statement by His Excellency in 2016 did not discourage students from committing to what they have signed for with NSFAF,” adding that beneficiaries are coming forth to NSFAF and are executing their repayment obligations. “It is our call to encourage those that interpreted the statement by His Excellency to visit our offices and commit to pay so that we become a revolving fund to fund other Namibians in future,” she said. Further, she stated what is affecting the success of the loan repayment rate, which from face value appears to be low, is the NSFAF business or lending model. She said NSFAF student loans are not conventional loans. The key characteristics of conventional debts include the certainty of the repayment period and amount, which are fixed at the time of lending thus making it easier to calculate the repayment amount on a yearly basis, as well as setting a target for anyone carrying out the collection functions. “In the case of student debts, the current business model is such that students upon completion of their studies and having secured employment, they come back to NSFAF and indicate the amount they wish to pay. It is therefore difficult to set recovery goals on a floating target. This business model however is affecting the sustainability, and needs to be changed as a matter of urgency,” she maintained. •••• Pic; NSFAF budget Caption;
New Era Reporter
2018-03-28 09:04:28 7 months ago

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