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STUDENTS ASSOCIATION URGES NSFAF TO REOPEN REGIONAL OFFICES

By: Annakleta Haikera

The National African Students Association (NASA) has called on NSFAF to reestablish NSFAF regional offices in key regions with universities.

According to the students association, it has discovered that many students are self-funded because they either don’t apply or finish their NSFAF applications due to a lack of knowledge about the fund and the application forms.

They argued that NSFAF had centralised its regional offices to Windhoek, making it difficult for students in the regions to manoeuvre such challenges.

Vihemba Paulus, NASA deputy- president, explains that “NASA committed to installing a national NSFAF application assistance centre whereas we recruited and trained volunteers in the following six regions to assist students in applying online, Kavango East, Kavango West, Zambezi region, Erongo region, Oshana region and Khomas region.”

He, however, argued that this solution is temporal, and the lasting solution would be for NSFAF to reestablish its regional offices in key regions with universities.

“The secretariats misinterpret its funding criteria policy, for example, the exclusion for funding of private institution students and the refusal to fund certificate graduates articulating to diplomas and diploma graduates seeking to articulate to bachelor’s degree. The policy does not prohibit these students from being funded.”

“Refusal to fund students who are doing certificates and diploma courses accredited by NQA as level five and below. This contradicts the NSFAF mandate. The association, through the Equal Student Funding For All campaign, is organising a consultative forum with SRC/TRC between April –May to review and identify the flaws of the current 2019 Students Assistance Fund and debt recovery policy and engage NSFAF and the Ministry of Higher Education on the recommendations from the consultative forums.”

He said that all students studying at institutions and doing courses that NQA does not accredit are not funded by NSFAF as per the NSFAF Act.

“And this has become a norm, whereas anyone can start an institution of higher learning and start making money through uncontrollable prizing without accrediting the institution and courses offered. NASA recognises this concern as a threat to quality education and sees the need to address this concern through this campaign.”

According to the association, many students who are repeating modules are self-funded.

“This campaign will also motivate students on the importance of progressive performance. We want to call on the SRC to take up the social responsibilities to encourage students to take their studies.”

“It is psychologically draining to be financially excluded. Many students have lost their lives because of suicide that arises from depression of being denied access to education because one cannot afford to settle their historical debts. It is our responsibility to ensure that all students are funded equally. Our commitment toward equal, accessible, inclusive and well-resourced education is guaranteed.”

Paulus further said, “The misinterpret of own funding criteria policy and exclusion for funding of private institution students and the refusal to fund certificate graduates articulating diplomas or diploma graduates seeking to articulate to bachelor’s degree. The policy does not prohibit these students from being funded. Refusal to fund students with certificates and diploma courses accredited by NQA as level five and below. This contradicts the NSFAF mandate.”

“NASA recognises this concern as a threat to quality education and sees the need to address this concern through equal student funding for all campaigns. Many students who are repeating modules end up being self-funded, and this campaign will also deal with motivating students on the importance of progressive performance. We want to call on the SRC to take up the social responsibilities.”

Acting CEO of NASFAF, Kennedy Kandume, revealed, during the launch of the 2022 online application process that NSFAF’s request for an increased budget to N$1.6 billion will be approved. He said this is to cater for the expected increased number of applicants during the 2022 academic year.

Last year, close to 23 000 students applied for funding, but only about 16 000 qualified for NSFAF funding. In 2021, the fund received N$1.2 billion in the budget while it received N$1.5 billion the previous year.

Julia Heita

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