A Namibian student studying in the United Kingdom last Wednesday staged a peaceful demonstration in solidarity with Windhoek based students demanding from the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) and the minister of higher education that all qualified and eligible students be financed to pursue tertiary education.
Ndilipomwene Sheekuli staged his solo demonstration in Edinburgh. "I know what it means to not afford an education and this is the reason why I had to stand up," commented Sheekuli.
"The government of Namibia has money earmarked for useless programmes and useless parastatals catering jobs for comrades," stressed Sheekuli. Sheekuli is completing his Masters of Science in Healthcare Management at the Edinburgh Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland.
He is National Union of Students Scotland (NUS Scotland) representative for postgraduates and mature students. He runs campaigns aimed at improving education in Scotland. "I cannot clean the neighbours' house if I do not clean at home first. I cannot watch the future go on the streets. I decided to stand up because I cannot just sit silently like I am not affected," Sheekuli told Youth Corner.
He had no other choice but to make the protest international through BBC. "The international community will know how 12 000 Namibian students are being denied education which is a right enshrined in the constitution," he emphasised. He added: "If there is one thing I have learned, you cannot get anything out of NSFAF unless you fight them and remind them, stand up to them and we have to do that collectively, from wherever we find ourselves."
Sheekuli further pointed out: "We are supposed to be a golden country, with our population and resources." As one of the bursary holders, Sheekuli has benefitted and continues to partially benefit from NSFAF. "I have been funded by NSFAF in my bachelor's degree which I completed in India. Unable to find a job, I applied to do my studies here in the UK. Although NSFAF could not fund me fully, they were able to pay 90 percent of my fees," he revealed.
Hailing from Okatope village in the Ohangwena Region, Sheekuli is the second born in a family of eight. "My younger brother who has more than 40 points in Grade 12 had to take a gap year in order for my parents to take loans to help me study for my masters. Things didn't go according to plan as this year, his hope of securing a loan and register for an engineering course at the Namibian University of Science and Technology fell flat, he recently had to drop out of university because he won't be able to afford it, " said the disappointed Sheekuli.
He cautioned: "What is happening now will cause us to be sole breadwinners and for as long as that circle continues, we will always be poor and this education will end up as a master key which can only be held by one person at a time."