Student leaders object NSFAF laptop initiative

Two financial options available for students

15 September 2020 | Onderwys
Enzo Amuele





WINDHOEK

Student unions have opposed a laptop initiative by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF). The initiative was recommended by the fund to help students access e-learning platforms during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the Higher Education Covid-19 support to Namibian students, the initiative was set to cost the fund N$180 million to supply university students with 32 000 laptops.

However, student unions have opposed the move as the money set aside for students’ non-tuition fees was going to be used to purchase the laptops and internet devices, which meant students’ fees were going to be cut.

‘Grave concern’

Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) spokesperson, Dylan Mukoroli, said: “It is with grave concern that Nanso came across information that the NSFAF intends to reduce the non-tuition fees of all students from N$17 000 to N$11 000 to accommodate the procurement of these laptops”.

This is in contradiction of the recommendations made by Nanso in the consultations with the government, he said.

He further added that no student’s non-tuition fees must be adversely affected as these funds must still be used to cater for their needs that persist despite the cancellation of their classes.

Government subsidy

In a statement, the minister of higher education, training and innovation, Itah Kandjii-Murangi, said: “We have recently engaged the elected student leaders, SRC presidents and the student leaders have made it abundantly clear to the line ministry that, they, as elected leaders at their various higher education institutions, prefer to remain the authentic conveyors of student challenges first through their institution's leadership and then to government through the line ministry and or NSFAF.

“In light with this engagement, the following emerged: The government will subsidise the cost of the laptops by 50%; the students will be given two options to finance the remaining 50%.

“One option will be for the student to finance it through an NSFAF loan, which will be repayable as per NSFAF financial assistance and recovery policy. The other option will be for the student to finance the 50% through a cash payment,” the minister said.

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