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Opinion - NSFAF: The epitome of leadership and competence deficiency

2021-09-23  Staff Reporter

Opinion - NSFAF: The epitome of leadership and competence deficiency
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In 1995, the Namibian Cabinet proposed for a formation of a fund that would offer financial assistance to the poor Namibian students studying at tertiary institutions to ensure that even the poor would have access to tertiary education. They then established the Namibian Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF). 

This NSFAF was approved in 1996 and got implemented with effect from January 1997. Ultimately, the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund Act 2000 (Act No.26 of 2000) came into being and operational. This is not what’s important though. 

Just like any other state-owned entity or public institution in Namibia, NSFAF is just another mal-administered institution if not worse. NSFAF is a public institution that has been unfortunately run by individuals whom I can describe as incompetent, careless, unsympathetic, and probably lack working ethics. Individuals with leadership deficiency. Stephen Covey was right when he said that “failed organisations are usually over-managed and under led”, which means organisations rise and fall on the leadership. If the leadership is poor, then the organisation is doomed to fail.  

Over the past years and at the moment, students have been suffering as a result of maladministration of the NSFAF management. The NSFAF management has failed and displayed its incapabilities in running the institution through infinite incidents. It is sad seeing students suffer as a result of reckless and careless administration.

 Almost every new NSFAF beneficiary each year has to face difficulties, either academically or emotionally or socially due to financial difficulties, all thanks to the NSFAF management. To start with, NSFAF applications start almost four months prior to the next academic year, this is much more than adequate time for NSFAF to scrutinise, validate, process and approve students’ applications. Regardless of that fact, in the ongoing 2021 academic year, NSFAF released the first list of new beneficiaries in June, which was six months after the commencement of the academic year. Whatever the cause of this intolerable delay, only they (NSFAF) can tell. As a result of such recklessness, numerous students were forced to drop out of school, others put their studies on hold, while some were forced to postpone their exams. This is all because NSFAF failed to do their task on time to process, approve and pay for student fees as mandated to, or rather provide institutions with lists of successful students as early as possible, recommendable before any institution’s first semester exams.

Besides that, the agreement between NSFAF and students as stipulated in the contract signed by both parties includes non-tuition fees. This money is meant for books allowance, hostels/renting/accommodation, transport fees, toiletries, food and other many day-to-day needs of a student. It is an obvious case that one would tell already that students need those necessities as early as the beginning of the academic year, which translates into the need for the non-tuition fees to be disseminated to students in the very early months of the year so that they settle their needs. Surprisingly (albeit not anymore), NSFAF can take up to November, the 11th month, to start paying out the non-tuition fees. One may ask if that is still non-tuition fee or it is just some sort of festive season’s cash-out or probably an end year bonus for students. This is because this money will not serve its purpose in any way. Students need this money during the course of the academic year for transport to go to campus, buy data and food as well as paying rent, but how will that be possible if they only get it in November when classes are done? We witnessed many students being evicted by fed up landlords. This surfaced the fact that the management of NSFAF is 

incompetent and it does not take students’ needs into account.

Flabbergastingly, NSFAF fails to stick to the contracts it signed with students. There are students who are owed by NSFAF as far back as 2017. This clearly indicates that the fund is not committed to its duties. The fund is after students who were funded in the previous years, but itself as well is failing to abide by its own contracts. It has been a norm now that NSFAF only reacts after demonstrations by students or when it learns about anticipated demonstrations. This is such a total disgrace to the state’s educational sector and disrespect to the students community.

Recently, we learned of the fund paying out an employee an amount rounding to about N$2 200 000 due to its mishandling of cases and zero knowledge on how to go about them. To make it worse, the fund will soon start paying salaries to two CEOs at the same time in the upcoming months. It is also a big shame and waste of taxpayers money that a CEO who is running a failed fund is paid N$160 000 per month. 

This can only happen in a country with a leadership crisis. Money being wasted in such cases could have catered for more students. We, therefore, plead with NSFAF management to change for the better and become a responsible, competent institution. 

2021-09-23  Staff Reporter

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