Geingob grills Nanso

24 May 2019 | Education

The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) leadership received a grilling from President Hage Geingob on Wednesday during a meeting to discuss a number of issues, including that the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) is not able to assist a whopping 12 000 students that qualify for funding.

NSFAF announced this week that out of the 15 087 students who met the minimum requirements for funding, only 2 925, which is less than 20%, will receive funds in the current academic year.

Geingob wanted to know on Wednesday: “Are they all poor?

“Where is the role of the parents? Are you telling me that everybody must be educated by government? Must government also pay for the rich people's children?” he asked.

Geingob also asked whether government must pay scholarships to businesspeople's children.

“Everything is government, government. Out of the 15 000 how many are poor?”

He also wanted to know how many children of rich people were admitted to these tertiary institutions.

“Some parents must pay for their children.”

Nanso secretary-general Simon Taapopi interjected to explain that all 15 000 students who applied to NSFAF for funding were evaluated and qualified based on their academic and economic backgrounds.

“Some of these children are children of domestic workers and security guards,” said Taapopi.

Geingob continued questioning the economic backgrounds of the 12 000 who have been excluded from receiving NSFAF funding, despite Taapopi's explanation.

“Are they all poor? You are giving the impression that everybody is poor. Let each give according to his ability and let government concentrate on the needy,” said Geingob.

The student body told the president that apart from the NSFAF funding crisis there is a serious need for tertiary fees to be regulated across public and private institutions.

The youth also raised the issue of students being blacklisted on ITC for failing to honour their loan agreements and asked that the loans be turned into grants.

Taapopi said there is a serious need for government to look into implementing free education, as promised in the Swapo 2014 election manifesto.

“Imagine the tuition fees for an engineering student are N$80 000 per year. By the time he is finished after five years they would have accumulated to N$500 000. Now this person is his family's only hope for an income, but instead he must pay back the student loans and cannot support his family,” Taapopi said.

“We have resolved that the loan option should only apply to non-tuition fees and are urging government to remove interest on loans for non-tuition fees. We also call on government to ensure that no Namibian student should be blacklisted on ITC.”

Nanso also appealed to government to include students of the College of the Arts as NSFAF beneficiaries.

JEMIMA BEUKES