WINDHOEK – A large crowd of tertiary students staged a peaceful demonstration in Windhoek on Wednesday, demanding from the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) and the minister of higher education that all qualified and eligible students be funded to further pursue their studies.
The students’ ‘national shutdown’ demonstration, led by the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) leadership, was prompted by revelations that more than 12 000 students, out of over 15 000 applicants for NSFAF study loans, were turned down.
This means only 19 percent of qualified applicants are to be funded during the current financial year.
NSFAF received a N$1.138 billion subsidy from government, but the fund said the allocation was short of N$641 million.
Students demanded that higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi secure the N$641 million shortfall so that NSFAF can fund the overlooked 12 000 students.
“We are the future of Namibia. Out of us you will have your doctors and accountants. We don’t need to bring in people [from abroad]. Educate us, we are your youth, your tomorrow and future. Monitronic College only has one student funded by NSFAF. What about some of us, what about Triumphant College. We are all Namibian; we are all equal,” Monitronic Success College Student Representative Council (SRC) president Fransiska Manyambe remarked.
She continued: “If you only fund one, what happens to the rest of us? We are filling the streets doing nothing whilst we have the brains and the ability to [do] something tomorrow. Please hear that we are all one. It doesn’t matter which institution or who teaches us.”
The students also demanded that the minister dissolves the NSFAF board, saying they are not functioning and have no student interest at heart.
They also want the outstanding tuition and non-tuition fees dating back to 2017 to be settled.
Students further demand that all fishing quota rights holders and mining companies contribute a mandatory five percent of their profit to students’ funding.
They also propose that Nanso’s budget allocation of N$500 000 for 2019 from the ministry of higher education be diverted to fund the 12 000 students.
They also want NSFAF to release the list of names of the 12 000 students.
The students have set June 15 as deadline for the minister to settle their demands, following which they demand that the minister steps down if nothing is done to resolve their issues, said Nanso vice-president Bernard Kavau.
In response the minister said it is the students’ democratic right to demonstrate in a free country, adding that they should thank the ruling party Swapo for such freedom.
But her remarks were not taken lightly by students, who said they did not want to hear about Swapo but rather about a solution to their education-financial plight.
“Out of topic,” some shouted.
After Nanso leaders calmed the shouting students, the minister explained that the government is seized with their demands to transform NSFAF.
“Indeed, I have received your petition. I will study it and revert back to you,” she said before police officers escorted her back to her office.
Pic; Student demo