Windhoek — Several Namibian students who want to pursue N4-N6 vocational training qualifications abroad in 2018 claim they are stranded as the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) failed to honour the trainees' requests for loan extensions.
The aggrieved students, who mainly applied to study electrical and mechanical engineering at College of Cape Town, South Africa, are furious after NSFAF allegedly approved their applications for financial assistance last year - but after it allegedly gave them approval letters which signalled they will be awarded the loans their applications have now fallen flat.They claim NSFAF cancelled their loans at the last minute without giving them a valid reason, while they had already applied for their study visas to go to Cape Town.
"We got approval letters only to be told late December that the loans were cancelled. Some students had already gone to South Africa.
They cancelled without giving us a reason. They only said we have to re-apply for the loans on January 12 to February 28, while registration already started on January 8 and will end January 11 [today]. We are very disappointed because they failed to alert us in advance about these changes," bemoaned a student.
Approached for comment yesterday, Olavi Hamwele, NSFAF's chief human capital and corporate affairs officer, said these students were initially awarded for a maximum of three years to pursue their levels 1-3 at local vocational training centres (VTCs). He added they have since competed Level 3, which implies that the Fund has honoured its current agreement with the trainees.
"Since there is no earlier approval made for loan extension, NSFAF is not liable for any expenses incurred by the students," he reacted.
He noted in the past NSFAF issued automatic loan extension for trainees who wished to enhance their N4-N6 vocational training qualifications at international institutions - however this practice has been discontinued as from 2018 in order to enable trainees to apply through the normal online application process.
He said the online application for 2018 commences on January 12 and closes February 28.
According to him, the Fund received Loan extension requests from 105 trainees. "No requests were approved and trainees have been informed and encouraged to apply for financial assistance through the NSFAF online application process, which will open for applicants as from 12 January 2018. Since no loan extensions awards were issued and cancelled, NSFAF is not in a position to provide the value of the awards," Hamwele said.
Further, he said the Fund did communicate to the applicants to inform them that their request for a loan extension was not approved and trainees have been encouraged to apply through the NSFAF online application process, which will open for applicants as from Friday.
He maintained the students normally have a month to apply for the loan extension, and the response is usually provided within a month, which is exactly what happened in this case.
"We are collaborating with the local VTCs, to inform the students to apply through NSFAF 2018 online application for funding. This information is widely publicised in the local media and available on NSFAF website (www.nsfaf.fund). Should they qualify for funding through the online application process, they will be funded accordingly," he stressed.