WINDHOEK - The country’s largest opposition party, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) says it will not take lightly the announcement made by Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) that is only able to fund study loans of 2 925 new applicants, out of 24 739 applications.
Addressing the media here yesterday, PDM Vice-president Jennifer van der Heever said should they not reach any conclusion, the party is ready to rally behind the students in whatever approach they may deem fit, “whether it is legally or otherwise”.
“We are also ready to use all resources availed to us as the second-largest movement represented in the National Assembly,” she vowed.
NSFAF this financial year received an allocation of N$1.138 billion, with a shortfall of N$641 million and the fund said is only able to fund study loans of 2 925 new applicants, out of 24 739 applications received.
Although 9 650 of the received applications did not meet the funding requirements, 15 087 applicants did qualify for assistance. Continuing students are to be funded to the tune of N$1.076 billion, the fund said. NSFAF says the budget allocated to it falls short of N$641 million.
Van der Heever said one cannot deny the prevailing economic storms experienced nationwide but these storms have without a doubt had many consequences for the people of this democratic country; socially, economically and even politically.
However, she said this country’s government and its ruling party, the Swapo took on many promises, one of these, free education.
“They went further and created a national plan, named ‘the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), with the slogan ‘no man should be left out’,” she said, adding that at the centre of the HPP was a promise to make education free and affordable. Also, she said they did not forgotten that the NSFAF paid more than N$200 million since 2014 in tuition fees for medical students at foreign universities that are neither vetted nor recognised by the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA). The payouts are set to have been made at a time when NSFAF did not have a proper funding policy in place.
“There is a clear indication of maladministration, corruption and incompetence in both government and the funding institution. Government has failed to prioritize the needs of students and of young people in general,” she said.
First, she said the spending of N$200 million on a NSFAF building and second, failure to make President Hage Geingob’s dream of ‘turning all loans into grants’ a reality.
“It is a common fact that every year, tertiary institutions increase their tuition fees, this then means that, amounts paid by the NSFAF to cover for tuition could be used up, leaving students with mere pennies to fend for themselves,” she said.
Van der Heever says it is election year, and they cannot emphasize enough on the importance of voting for the right government, a government that has the best interest of these country’s young people at heart. “Every single parent sends their children to school, with the thought that ‘if he/she receives an education, he/she will surely plough back’,” she said, adding that this however has not been the case as young people graduate into debts and unemployment.
“Their qualifications’ worth becomes diluted because of a stubborn status quo and because of the government’s failure to prioritize,” she added. She said in August last year, students took to the streets for a peaceful demonstration in an effort to make government realise that they too had a right to an education.
According to her, government used its military forces to beat up children, and after many consultations, these students finally got the answer they deserved.
“Government has become very relaxed and forgotten its legal obligations towards NSFAF students, we are here to remind them,” she said.
2019-05-23 09:16:48 3 months ago