Students demand minister's head

31 May 2019 | Local News

The anger and frustration being experienced by thousands of Namibian households spilled over into the streets on Wednesday, when students, among others, demanded the resignation of higher education minister Itah Kandji-Murangi over the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) funding debacle.

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

The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) leadership met with President Hage Geingob last week to highlight their unhappiness and that those being left out include the children of domestic workers and security guards, but received no joy from the head of state.

On Wednesday emotions ran high when students from various tertiary institutions took to the streets and marched to the NSFAF headquarters and the higher education ministry. Their demands included that Kandji-Murangi resign.

The group handed over a petition to NSFAF acting CEO Kennedy Kandume in which they demanded that all outstanding tuition and non-tuition fees, dating back to 2017, be paid by 15 June.

Kandume informed the students the fund would study the document before responding.

“We heard you loud and clear. We will study it in detail and get back to you,” he said, as the students demanded a specific date.

“I think it is only fair, as NSFAF, to be given a chance to go and study this document and come back to you. We will give you a timeframe as to when we will come back to you through your leadership,” Kandume said. The students also demanded that all predetermined funding rates be abolished and that there should be equity for all students, regardless of the institution they are enrolled at.





“Fund all 12 000 students; we are all needy and poor. Abolish the NSFAF drafted policy, which is discriminating against students, as it doesn't serve all students' interests, but the minister's. Students' proof of registration must be the NSFAF policy and eligibility criteria. Remove and replace the current NSFAF board, as they so not have the interest of students at heart,” the petition said.

“The minister of higher education must resign, as she is causing more harm to students and bringing division among student leaders.”

The students are demanding that their expectations be met before or on 15 June.

“Failure to meet these demands, we have our hidden mechanism to put an end to this act of killing the future of our youth and the nation. Be ready; this is just the beginning of youth liberation,” the petition added.

Last Wednesday the Nanso leadership received a grilling from Geingob during a meeting to discuss a number of issues, including that NSFAF is not able to assist a whopping 12 000 students that qualify for funding.

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,” Geingob added.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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