4 December 2012

Namibia: Minister Addresses VTC Chaos

EDUCATION Minister Abraham Iyambo yesterday announced that he has instructed the management of the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre (WVTC) to make lesson plans available to students.

The lesson plans pertain to the National Occupational Safety Association and the Institute of Management and Leadership Training courses.

This came after the Namibia National Student Organisation (Nanso) handed a petition to Iyambo in October about issues at WVTC which the students were unhappy about.

Iyambo further agreed with the student organisation that transparent and unambiguous information is necessary about fee structures.

“Trainees have the right to know in advance the exact amount of their out-of-own-pocket expenditure, inter alia, for the hostel accommodation and what amounts are outstanding.”

The minister told the WVTC board and management to improve the administrative and financial system of the WVTC and communicate relevant information to trainees timeously and regularly.

The Namibia Training Authority (NTA) was further requested to train WVTC staff on how to use the financial system.

Iyambo further instructed the WVTC board to ensure that trainees receive receipts for all payments immediately when payments are made and to keep all records of payments safely.

Also, the board and management were told to make audited financial statements available to the trainees’ representative council and call a meeting where the content of the financial statements is discussed and clarified.

Iyambo also admitted that there was a lack of clarity and information about loans given to the trainees. “The WVTC board and management, assisted by the NTA, should make a thorough study of all fees and costs and engage the Namibian Student Financial Assistance Fund as soon as possible to discuss possible adjustments to the loans and keep students informed of progress.”

The minister shot down a request by Nanso to introduce second, third and fourth supplementary examination opportunities. “I want to encourage trainees to study hard to avoid having to redo examinations. A trainee who works consistently and regularly during the training period, should be able to pass any examination with flying colours.”

He said although the current system allows for reassessment three months after the examination, this should be discouraged.

“In this respect, I am directing that the NTA and the WVTC management should determine a reasonable period for trainees to finish a specific subject and level. I am not in favour of trainees spending an unending period to complete a level. They should complete a level and move on.”

Iyambo agreed with a demand from office administration trainees to be supplied with laptop computers.

Students also called for the removal of several WVTC staff members, including the liaison officers, the accountant and the caretaker. About this, Iyambo yesterday said: “I am directing the WVTC management and board to thoroughly investigate the students’ grievances, take the necessary action and inform the CEO of the NTA by the end of the calendar year how the grievances of the trainees were addressed.”

The minister welcomed the trainees’ call for a suggestion box which is to be managed by the trainees’ representative committee. He said the WVTC management will assist the committee in setting up the suggestion box.

Trainees also expressed concern for having only one drawing lecturer. “I fully agree that one drawing instructor is not enough. The WVTC management has informed us that advertisements have been placed for assistant drawing instructors to be appointed in 2013.”

He further agreed with trainees’ need for greater partnership with industry. “The demand for more partnerships in order to provide more opportunities for job attachment is logical.”

Iyambo did not agree with students that they need more cleaners and instead told them to help keep the premises clean.

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