About 460 Trainees at the National Youth Services (NYS), training center at Rietfontein are owed about N$ 1 127 000 in allowances fees since September last year to date, The Villager has learnt.
The Villager also learned that one day after inquiring with the NYS regarding trainee allowance payments, the NYS issued letters of suspension dated 12 April to 6 trainees who had also inquired about payment and have been accused of mobilizing trainees to speak out against the allowance withdrawals. The letter states that they are expected to report back at the center on 15 May and the suspension is effected to restore order and pave way for further investigations.
A trainee who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the trainees have tried to involve the NYS officials regarding releasing their allowances but their efforts were futile. “We signed a contract last year saying that all trainees are entitled too N$350 month as a monthly allowance, a uniform and food and accommodations as we are in the third year of skills training. “Last year they told us that they are going to put the allowance on hold until further notice, that was in August after we received the allowance but come December they told us to go on holiday and to report to the center in January.
“When we reported to the training center the Commissioner of NYS Onesmus Upindi announced on the radio that all trainees will get their outstanding allowances as they come to report at the center,” the trainee fumed. The trainee further noted that last Friday they attended a meeting with the commissioner who told them that the allowance was cut due to economic crisis the county is facing and the NYS can only afford to assist trainees with toiletries but not the N$350 allowance.
According to the source when they tried to force more into the allowance issue Upindi told the trainees that a trainee that is not willing to accept toiletries as allowances package then they will be allowed to leave the training.
“We cannot go back to our homes; we are now in the third year of training and need to finish this skills training and then found jobs to take care of us, why must he the commissioner tell us to go back. Please to investigate the matter so that the minister and all state officials see what we are dealing with here” the trainee said. The Villager understands that classes have been suspended this week until further notice and the trainees are forced to clean the premises of the training centre. “We are currently not attending any classes as you can see we have been ordered to clean the yard, and those that refuse to clean were told that they will be suspended from the center,” the trainee added.
When approached for a comment on why trainees have not been receiving allowances the Commissioner of NYS, Onesmus Upindi claimed it is due to economic crisis. “The economic environment has affected many institutions that receive their budgetary subsidies from the national budget and has also affected the operations of NYS and requires that an organization has to concentrate on its core business or function of providing training to the youth.
“It is against this background the available resources have to be developed to ensure that the training continues and the welfare of trainees is maintained by providing them with free meals, accommodation , training uniforms and other related requirements which are made available at no cost to trainees , in addition the amenities as provision of toiletries,” Upindi said. He further noted that given the current situation which not only affects or unique to NYS, a strategic decision was taken to provide the trainees with the basic necessities for which the N$350 was intended for.