Currently, there are three students’ representative organisations, namely the Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO), Students’ Union of Namibia (SUN), and the National African Students’ Association (NASA).They have some common objectives. One of their common objectives is to fight for equal funding for students.
This could be attained by fighting for students’ payments (both tuition and non-tuition fees) on time. The tuition fee is meant to cater for students’ lectures, while a non-tuition fee is meant to cater for students’ accommodation, transport and study materials. Earlier last year, SUN was at the forefront in fighting for students. However, in the middle of last year, SUN disappeared in the blink of an eye until today. The other two organisations have been on mute, watching students suffering.
At the end of last year, students fought for themselves individually to have their tuition and non-tuition fees settled. Unfortunately, half of the students didn’t get their non-tuition fees for the academic year 2020 until today. This includes re-contracting students. It has become a habit for the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) to do this. It seems like the organisation is not ready to serve students.
Each year, they wait for students to strike for them to settle students’ fees. On the other hand, the Ministry of Finance is to be blamed for not availing enough funds to the organisation responsible for paying students’ fees (NSFAF) on time each year. Both students’ organisations and Students Representative Councils (SRCs) are aware of this. They are just sitting without helping students to have their fees settled.
It will be almost three months for students (especially from UNAM) having had online lessons, without any action being taken by the students’ organisations, namely NANSO, SUN and NASA. Moreover, the entire UNAM Students Representative Council (SRC) management for 2021 is weak. We voted them into power, hoping they would serve us, but it was an irony.
They are comparable to a toothless bulldog.
Their Facebook official page timeline is just occupied by birthday wishes. No radical statement or action plan for the academic year 2021. Are they serving students, or just making names?
It’s high time for students to hold people they voted into power accountable. NSFAF is failing to complete its duties, including recovering debts from its former beneficiaries, and paying students fees on time. It should be liquidated, or co-opted into the Ministry of Finance.
With the Ministry of Finance, it will be easier to recover the debts because it’s the one responsible for paying salaries. In addition, the Ministry of Finance never disappoints public servants. It pays their salaries earlier or on time. I hope students will be treated the same.
* Shifela Johannes is a student at the University of Namibia in the School of Education.