NSFAF to proceed with laptop acquisitions
18 September 2020 | Education
The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund will go ahead with its plan to procure laptop computers for students.
The fund will only procure laptops for students who have shown interest, acting CEO Kennedy Kandume announced. This is a slight departure from initial plans to procure 32 000 laptops at a cost of N$180 million. The fund's initial plan would see students fund the laptops out of their non-tuition fees, which are capped at N$17 000, with the cost of the laptops set at N$6 000.
The aim was to enable students to continue studying during the Covid-19 pandemic as face-to-face learning had to be stopped earlier this year.
Only interested students
Those who have not opted for the option would receive their full non-tuition fees, Kandume added.
“It is by choice, only those who indicate that they are in need of the laptop or connectivity device will benefit from this initiative. The initiative is not only for NSFAF beneficiaries,” he said.
Students wishing to benefit are encouraged to visit the Fund's website and complete a survey, Kandume advised.
Students hoping to benefit from the initiative will have to meet the ministry of higher education halfway as far as the costs are concerned.
“The laptop is worth N$6 000. Students will pay half and the ministry will pay the other half. The connectivity device is N$690. It comes with 10 GB [of data] per month and students will pay N$345 once off while the ministry pays the remaining N$345,” said Kandume.
“In totality, students will only contribute N$3 345 to benefit from this initiative,” he added.
Several student bodies had opposed the plan.
The Student Union of Namibia (SUN), Landless People's Movement (LPM) Student Command, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Youth League and the National Africa Students Association (NASA) contend it would be more practical to give the students their full non-tuition fees directly so that they spend the money on other learning tools and to support themselves.
Acting on behalf of student bodies and youth formations, Tjituri Law Chambers said the move was “repulsive, unlawful, and stands to be challenged”.
“Further, the Fund is afforded an opportunity to cease the bidding process for the purchasing of laptops for our clients and their constituents forthwith. Furthermore, the fund is implored to honour its contractual obligations towards our clients as per clause 1.1.5 of the loan contract for the 2020 academic year. Failure to adhere to the above, we hold strict instructions to approach the High Court of Namibia on an urgent basis and seek to review and set aside the fund's unilateral decision with costs,” the law firm said.