WINDHOEK - Minister of Higher Education Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi told an angry crowd of demonstrating Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) funded students yesterday that government is unable to fully pay for their non-tuition fees, hence she called on their parents to top up for the shortfall.
Due to lack of fully financial obligations by NSFAF, students found themselves with shortfalls ranging from N$5000 to N$10 000.
She added education is a shared responsibility hence due to the economic hardship experienced in the country- government will not be able to top up the shortfalls.
She called on parents to understand the situation and chip in to assist government top up where there is a shortfall.
This call comes after the students comprising of all higher educational institutions-both private and public who are funded by NSFAF staged a peaceful demonstration over a failed promise by NSFAF to settle outstanding accounts as per agreement signed between them and the fund.
The agreement was signed last month by Nanso vice president Bernard Kavau and NSFAF Acting Chief Executive Kennedy Kandume. The two parties said due to the economic downturn and competing priorities against limited resources, the higher education funding is equally affected.
For non-tuition fees for the 2018 academic year, the parties agreed NSFAF to pay a flat fee of N$17,000 per student non-tuition fees for both continuing students and new intakes. This is applicable to both boarding and non-boarding students. Such fees were payable on or before July 31. Since the payable set date lapsed, Nanso Khomas leadership did not take this failure to the agreement lightly to the point of demonstrating in front of Government Park in full view of heavy police presence where they threatened to shut down the higher education ministry.
Kavau who read a petition on behalf of students from various higher education institutions said they demand a 100 percent tuition fees paid as the contract signed between NSFAF and them a month ago. They also demand 80 percent coverage of boarding students as per the agreement.
“We demand that the minister must release the budget-the whole remaining of N$1.45 billion to be given to NSFAF today. All the 2017 tuition and non-tuition must be paid today. The minister must source the N$400 million deficits. Failure to met our demands, the Minister of Higher Education must resign. As we can see, students are angry and they have their blankets, pots and stoves. We are going to turn this building into a student village,” Kavau read the petition. The minister said, “The reality on the ground is that you are not foreigners in your own land. You see and witness the economic downturn we are all experiencing.”
She promised the government will honour the signed agreement entered between NSFAF and Nanso.
However, she said there are students who are really needy and will therefore be assisted accordingly.
She urged continuing students to allow the first-year students to be funded, saying they should communicate to their parents and guardians to top up their shortfalls.
This did not go down well with the demonstrating students, shouting to the minister that they are all needy and that their parents are unable to top up shortfalls in excess of N$10 000. “You cannot all be needy. We are saying allow the first years to be awarded. We cannot just continue to fund continuing students and forget the responsibilities of our 2018 students. I am sure if you were to communicate this shortfall to your parents, they will be able to meet these shortfalls,” Kandjii-Murangi told the angry crowd.
Equally, she assured the NSFAF funded students that their tuition fees are covered 100 percent.
She explained every NSFAF funded student will receive N$17 000 for non-tuition fees.
For those in the hostels of which accommodation cost more than N$20 000 at some institutions, she urged students to reach out to their parents to top up in addition to the N$17 000 given as non-tuition fees by the fund.
She directed that no NSFAF funded student will ever get a refund, as has been the practice where students pocketed thousands of dollars.