Limkokwing: Geingob summons Kandjii-Murangi

Myriads of allegations, including that NSFAF has been bullied into awarding study loans for unaccredited courses, have unsettled the head of state.

11 October 2021 | Education

STAFF REPORTER







WINDHOEK

President Hage Geingob has written to higher education minister Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi asking for a detailed explanation regarding widespread allegations implicating her in supposed preferential treatment of Malaysia’s Limkokwing University in setting up a campus in Namibia.

Some of the favourable treatment of the university, such as having its students awarded loans while its programmes remain unaccredited, have been described as bordering on unlawful.

Namibian Sun understands that Geingob wrote the letter while he was away in the United States for the United Nations general assembly.

Insiders in the ruling party Swapo say the president is unsettled by a cocktail of allegations levelled against the minister, although she denied each of them in a statement delivered in Parliament a fortnight ago.

“In the letter, Hage has asked the minister to give reasons why she should not be relieved of her duties amid these allegations.”

The presidency did not respond to questions sent last Thursday regarding the matter.

Kandjii-Murangi said she has ‘no comment’ when asked yesterday whether she has furnished the head of state with details regarding her role in the controversial set up of the Asian institution.

Bullying

Among a host of allegations is that Kandjii-Murangi has ‘bullied’ the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) to grant student loans for Limkokwing University, while the university remained unaccredited.

NSFAF, by policy, does not grant funding for students to study unaccredited courses, or at unaccredited universities. The higher education ministry’s directive is thus viewed as irregular in NSFAF corridors and has unsettled officials who feel they are being forced to break their own rules.

The university remains non-operational academically in Namibia, which is a key requirement of the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA). But documents leaked recently by Affirmative Repositioning leader Job Amupanda show that the NSFAF has awarded study loans to Limkokwing students – who have not started any classes due to lack of accreditation.

“The [non-accreditation] status quo remains and they [Limkokwing University] can’t enrol a single student procedurally [without accreditation],” NQA sources told Namibian Sun.

Contradictions

In a ministerial statement on 28 September in the National Assembly, Kandjii-Murangi denied that the NSFAF was instructed to fund local Limkokwing students, saying this was a sole mandate of the fund’s board of directors.

This contradicts the version from NSFAF officials who say they have been pressured to award loans to the university’s students who are yet to start classes.

“No ring-fencing of funds for any institution or students, and that remains the domain of the NSFAF board,” the minister said.

“I, as minister, do not have a role in the awards. All registered private universities by the Namibia Council of Higher Education, that are sanctioned by NQA to operate, their local students become eligible for NSFAF funding. They compete with all others and those who meet the set NSFAF requirements become eligible for funding,” she said.

In her statement, Kandjii-Murangi also denied allegations that she had personal interest in the university, saying it is solely owned by Malaysians.

Critics of the alleged shenanigans say the minister’s push for Limkokwing, supposedly on the basis of its creative technology and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes, is disadvantaging local state-owned training institutions that offer such training, such as the College of the Arts and the Namibia Training Authority (NTA).

Meanwhile, in her statement, Kandjii-Murangi said it is her ministry’s goal to consolidate and “strengthen NTA by doing away with overlaps”.

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