Fix our problems or retire- Students tell higher education minister
Students who find their tuition and non-tuition fees unpaid by the Namibia Students Financial Assistant Fund (NSFAF) have slammed higher education minister, Itah Kandjii-Murangi for keeping silent in their face of peril as some openly called for her retirement.
The students from all recoginised higher learning institutions, led by the Namibia National Students Union (NANSO) rose into an outburst of protest right through the CBD chanting for NSFAF to make good of their payments as they headed for Murangi’s office, bringing traffic along Mandume Ndemufayo Ave to a near halt.
The protest comes a few weeks away after NSFAF had struck an agreement with the students that entailed payments of their fees but nothing much has been done in that direction, the students said.
“We are demanding 100% tuition fees and 80% non tuition fees and we are saying to NSFAF honour the agreement the students signed. The minister should say something and help us out. She has been ignorant,” said president from UNAM’s Students Representative Council, Tuhafeni Kalola.
He indicated that the recent NSFAF/NANSO deal had not been signed by the students but nonetheless, some had been paid in half and others received not a cent.
He also said that some students were to receive N$17 000 but Namic has been deducting their accounts.
UNAM’s Khomasdal campus vice president, Panduleni Nghifiwa said all they want is for the contract to be honoured: “We did not sign for a 24% tuition fee or N$17 000 non tuition fee. We signed for 100% tuition fee. Give what is due to the students.”
The agreement with NSFAF has since lapsed on the 31st of July which had been pinned to be the date whereupon all payments would have been done, said NANSO vice president Bernard Kavau.
“We don’t care! What we want is the minister to be able to tell the students that there is money or there is no money. It has been a long time and the minister did not speak to the students. The students are confused now, they think its NANSO which pays the tuition fees,” he said.
Triumphant college’s student president Wilbard Kangweya has called on the money to be e-walleted saying some students’ accounts from last year had not been settled.
“It’s affecting all students. Some are being evicted from places where they are renting as they cannot afford to pay rent. Money is always paid in at the end of the year after students have struggled. We don’t want this anymore,” he said.
Yet for NSFAF the setback has been in the higher education institutions which have not as yet submitted invoices for more than 9 000 students.
“We only pay based on the invoices from the institutions of higher learning. We have communicated but unfortunately they (students) don’t want to accept,” said Olavi Hamwele of NSFAF.
Above that, they still have about 1 400 new students who have not yet submitted their proof of registration and thus NSFAF can not pay until this is done.
“We need to do the verification and the proof of registration will help us to check whether this particular person has really registered for the course he or she was awarded for,” he said.
Thirdly, treasury has also been slow to release money although more than N$600 million has been received between April and August, Hamwele confirmed.
He said all these monies could have been paid had students and institutions submitted their proof of registration and invoices respectively.
Engagement with these institutions are in the meantime continuing, he said.
Speaking to the media early last month, NSFAF chief operations officer, Dr. Eino Mvula said all fields of study would be paid to a maximum of N$24 000 per student while an exception would be made for those with higher tuition fees than the N$24 000.
He said such fields are medicine which would be paid up to a maximum of N$34 000, engineering and veterinary medicine up to a maximum of N$34 000 per student with the tuition fees payable on or before July 31st of this year.
NSFAF said it would also pay a flat fee of N$17 000 per student in non-tuition fees for both continuing students and new intakes.
Speaking to The Villager on condition of anonymity, one mining engineering student said, “If I don’t get this money I will not graduate next year and wont be able to do my project so this is critical to me.”