Higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi says more than N$400 million has been raised for more than 12 000 students who were left without funding at the beginning of the year.
Speaking at a press briefing at the ministry's boardroom in Windhoek yesterday, Kandjii-Murangi said the team assigned to gather funds to help the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) students was successful in raising that amount for this purpose.
"I am pleased to inform you that the technical team that was constituted for the purpose of identifying additional resources to fund the NSFAF shortfall for this academic year has successfully completed its assignment, and the matter has been resolved," she stated.
The minister added that of that amount, N$182 million will come from the government, while N$238 million will be sourced from financial institutions.
Kandjii-Murangi said NSFAF-funded students should be assured that 100% of their tuition fees would be paid, as well as their non-tuition fees.
NSFAF announced in May that they could only fund 2 925 first-year students from a group of more than 15 000 students who had qualified for funding because the national students' fund had incurred a N$641 million shortfall.
With an allocation of over N$1 billion, the students fund was only able to assist returning students and 2 925 new students, leaving 12 000 stranded.
"Continuing NSFAF students prior to 2018 will receive N$21 600 as a non-tuition fee, and the 2018 and 2019 intakes of NSFAF students will receive N$17 000 as a non-tuition fee," she explained.
Turning to the awarded students who were accepted by NSFAF but chose to leave school due to the uncertainty of the process, the minister said provision will be made for them next year.
"I think it is important for us to realise that these students have undergone the rigorous process of being vetted and deemed as qualified. They should not be pulled under the same rigorous exercise next year, should they want to continue," she noted.
Echoing the minister's remarks, NSFAF chief executive officer Kennedy Kandume said the fund will work on identifying the students who dropped out, and will regard them as continuing students.
"They can also just come forward and say that they were accepted into tertiary schools and admitted, but could not continue because somewhere along the line they fell off, so that next year we can include them as part of the continuing students form 2018/2019," he added.
"We do not need to put them through the assessment process again because they are already in our system. It is just a matter of identifying them," said Kandume.
He noted that in order for students to receive their non-tuition fees, NSFAF officials will be going to various institutions to help students make sure that their contracts are signed.
"In the course of this week, we will come up with a schedule which will be communicated to students and the general public about when we are going to be at which tertiary institutions to assist students, and help them upload and download their contracts," he said.
Kandume clarified that the continuing students would not need to re-sign their contracts, if they had already signed them.
"The continuing students already signed their contracts, so their contracts are already valid, it is only the new intake," he added.
Also in attendance was the president of the Namibia National Students Organisation, Ester Simon, who said she considered the shared news a win.
"This is a win not only for Nanso, but also for the Namibian child, and we can say the ministry and the government are doing their best to ensure the Namibian child has access to education," she observed.