Higher education is ‘not a privilege’

The official opposition has expressed solidarity with student protesters and supports free tertiary education.

24 October 2016 | Politics

KEITH VRIES



The DTA has criticised the government and the University of Namibia following last week’s student protest that disrupted exams for two days.

An agreement was eventually reached between Unam and students, allowing those with outstanding fees to write examinations on condition that they pay their fees before 31 December.

In a statement, DTA MP Vipuakuje Muharukua argued that tertiary education was becoming a privilege in Namibia, to the detriment of poor students.

He said his party stands in solidarity with students who have been calling for free tertiary education.

Muharukua said the government failed to contain the chaos by coming up with a long-term solution that would allow free tertiary education.

“The DTA Youth League and the DTA of Namibia warned that [deferral] was not a lasting solution, but just a mere delay of the problem. We called on the parties involved to find a lasting solution before the situation repeated itself at the end of the year,” Muharukua said.

The DTA emphasised that education should be treated as a fundamental right, and not a privilege.

“It is through education that young Namibians will be able to enjoy and maximise other human rights, such as housing, dignity and employment,” he said.

“If our neighbours in Botswana and many other countries are able to provide free education from primary to undergraduate level, nothing should prevent Namibia from doing so.”

Muharukua added that during the Harambee Prosperity Plan period government officials should “graduate from the excuse of ‘there is no money’ ”.

He urged the government to deliver on its message of prosperity, saying that it starts with education.

“Namibian students cannot be held in prison for the expensive failure of TIPEEG, Mass Housing and the corrupt looting of the state coffers and just constantly be told there is not money,” Muharukua said.

Muharukua said Unam should follow the example of “many other universities” and allow students to write examinations despite owing money, even if they withhold the results until payments are made.

“By allowing students to attend lectures, write exams and submit assignments throughout the year, why then suddenly deviate from an established practice?

“Unam created a legitimate expectation that students would be permitted to sit for exams. Unam has created this expectation and they must honour it by allowing students to pursue academic progress,” Muharukua said.

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