Albertina Nakale Windhoek-During the 2015/16 financial year, the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) received government subsidies of over N$1.1 billion but only recovered N$4.84 million in loans it allocated to students. Slightly more than 91 percent of funding was spent on extending loans and scholarships to eligible students, while the remainder was directed towards the capital and administrative costs of running the institution. This information is contained in the fund’s annual report tabled by higher education minister Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi in the National Assembly on Tuesday. The annual report was audited by external auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers. The auditors found that management could not provide them with a complete list of all loans and commitments taken over when it was under the education ministry. As a result, the auditors were unable to satisfy themselves over the completeness of these loans, recoveries and related commitments. They say student loans showed N$1.38 billion as at March 31, 2016 and student funding expenses amounted to N$543 million. “Management could not provide us with the total value of commitments relating to these loans and grants as at 31 March 2016 due to the fact that the student loan database is not completed yet. Consequently, we could not satisfy ourselves as to the completeness of disclosures related to commitments and the classification of student loan balances,” the auditors revealed. Auditors said NSFAF is in the process of establishing a student loan database and hence the student loan balance due by each student is kept in the student fields. According to NSFAF’s chief executive officer, Hilya Nghiwete, a total of 11,063 loans for vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate studies were awarded in the 2015/16 financial year, indicating a 5.5 percent increase from the number of awards made the previous year. In financial terms, Nghiwete noted, this amounts to a total spending of N$314 million in awards. During the 2015/16 financial year, the fund revealed that 70 percent of funding was made up of loans, while the 30 percent is for scholarships. Equally, the fund received about 20,000 undergraduate applications whereby a huge chunk of N$309.8 million was spent on undergraduate studies. During the period, NSFAF awarded loans and scholarships to 11,595 students in addition to the 218 postgraduate students and 171 assisted for internship purposes. “The fund has made notable achievements in terms of fulfilling our mandate. In this regard, NSFAF constantly monitors three key indicators, namely accessibility, contribution to national human capital development and regional equity. In terms of accessibility, the increase in the number of awards disbursed is an important achievement,” she said. Furthermore, she stated NSFAF has increased funding and awards to the priority fields of study highlighted in Vision 2030 and the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), as well as in-board approved priority areas. Collectively, these include the areas of tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, education and science and technology. She said the large increases in the number of students awarded funds in the areas of medicine and related sciences, education, communication and conservation and tourism, are important indicators of the fund’s commitment to respond to the national skills needed.
New Era Reporter
2018-03-01 08:50:55 11 months ago