HIGHER education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi yesterday said the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund will stop refunding students because there is no money.
Kandjii-Murangi made these statements yesterday after students from various institutions of higher learning marched to the ministry's offices to demand the payment of their tuition and non-tuition fees, as well as refunds from last year's loans.
About 200 students who spent the rest of the day at the ministry's headquarters wanted the ministry to make funds available to NSFAF to pay their fees.
Namibia National Students Organisation vice president Bernard Kavau said they also wanted the fund to pay 100% tuition fees, and the N$21 600 non-tuition fee.
The minister, however, said NSFAF had not honoured an agreement it signed with Nanso in June because there was no money.
She added that students' tuition fees would be paid "in full", but the fund will no longer pay refunds to students because there was no money.
The minister added that the parents of students who were in arrears must "chip in" when the government had not paid their fees in full.
"The reality on the ground is that you are not foreigners in your own country, and you know of the economic downturn that the country is experiencing. Every NSFAF-funded student will also receive a N$17 000 non-tuition fee, and I know the N$17 000 non-tuition fee is probably your bone of contention, but it should not be.
The education of every youth in this country is a partnership. Where the government might not meet the full range of the fees required, your parents and your guardians must chip in," she stated.
The minister further called the students selfish for demanding that their tuition fees be paid on time, and that those boarding at several institutions be covered in full by the fund.
She added that the deficit created when the government was not able to cover the students' fees in full was affordable for the parents.
"The NSFAF fully funds your tuition fee, and when there is a deficit, we are saying you have got to reach out to your parents and guardians because the difference there is just in the region of N$5 000 to N$9 000," she said.
The Namibian understands that the NSFAF has only been allocated N$670 million of the total budget of N$1,4 billion from the government this year. The fund had recently stated that it was in a deficit with about N$400 million.
Students at the demonstration, however, started calling for the resignation of Kandjii-Murangi because "you don't represent our interests".
"We have seen that you don't represent our interests. Failure to meet our demands, we request that you should resign as we can see that students are angry," Kavau charged.