Windhoek — To date, the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) has received N$670 million in total from Treasury, out of the allocated N$1.45 billion for 2018/2019 financial year to enable the fund to make timely student payments.
This was revealed by NSFAF Acting Chief Executive Kennedy Kandume
who expressed the fund's appreciation for the commitment extended by both the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation as well the Ministry of Finance by prioritising the release of funds.
He said out of the 28 591 expected invoices, the fund had received 18,983 invoices from institutions of higher learning, out of which 11,909 has been paid to such institutions.
Further, he noted the remaining 6,889 invoices or 37 percent of total invoices are being processed for payment on Friday.
Kandume's announcement came after the Namibian National Students Organisation (Nanso) Khomas leadership had just expressed unhappiness over non-payments by NSFAF to settle student outstanding accounts as per the agreement signed between them a month ago. The agreement was signed by Nanso vice-president Bernhard Kavau and Kandume.
The two parties said due to the economic downturn and competing priorities against limited resources, the higher education funding is equally affected.
For non-tuition fees for the 2018 academic year, the parties agreed NSFAF to pay a flat fee of N$17,000 per student for both continuing students and new intakes. This is applicable to both boarding and non-boarding students.
Such fees were payable on or before July 31, which lapsed on Tuesday.
Since the payable set date lapsed, Nanso Khomas leadership did not take this failure to the agreement lightly to the point of threatening a shutdown of the higher education ministry.
"NSFAF promised to make payments on or before July 31, but their lofty promise and ambitions did not materialise. This will force students to shut down the Ministry of Higher Education next week and force the Minister [Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi] to resign if she doesn't have the students interest at heart," Nanso Khomas Regional Secretary Epaphras Sheya Ngolo reacted.
Ngolo assured their members that the Nanso leadership together with all institutions student representatives in Khomas Region will call for a press conference, to announce the Ministry of Higher Education shutdown.
"Students, we should not be naive to think that the world we live in is not inherently patriarchal. What are we going to inherit from Garden boys and Kitchen girls? Let us demonstrate the unity displayed during the difficult times we have gone through and once more prove that when young people are united, not even can the powerful ones divide them. Time is of the essence that we shake the core of the unjust system. Let it be every student's responsibility to mobilise and make it happen," he told students.
Ngolo said the delay in payments, Namic charges, award letters, signing of contracts and rejection of poor students by an ineffective and inefficient online application process is creating a great anxiety and psychological problems among the students. However, Kandume said NSFAF continues to engage with institutions of higher learning to obtain the remaining invoices for 9 680 students, to enable NSFAF to process these invoices.
With regards to the finalisation of 2018 award, he said the fund has issued provisional award letters to 6 270 students.
He added, about 2 278 will receive their provisional award letters by Friday.
Kandume said the remaining 15 percent (1 452) whom the fund had already communicated to are yet to submit their proof of registration.
"We urge all students who have not submitted their proof of registration to do so for the finalisation of the 2018 award. Although, awarded students are given up to 60 days to sign their contracts, NSFAF is encouraging them to sign and submit as soon as possible. It is only after the submission of signed contracts that payment for 2018 awardees can be processed." Currently, the NSFAF has 42 000 students in its books.