Students vent over unpaid fees

NSFAF and Bank Windhoek respond

16 August 2019 | Onderwys
Justicia Shipena

Student leaders say there is a delay in the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) paying out tuition and non-tuition fees to students, who rely heavily on these monies, due to being from poverty-stricken backgrounds.

A meeting was held to find solutions this week.

The student leaders subsequently hosted a media conference and aired their concerns regarding the delay in NSFAF payments for continuing students, as well as the issuing of Bank Windhoek cards to students at various tertiary institutions.

Bank Windhoek was awarded the tender to issue student cards to NSFAF aid recipients last December, after Nam-mic Financial Services’ contract was terminated.

Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) SRC president Juno Angula said they have observed the slow pace at which NSFAF cards are being issued and that Bank Windhoek is only operating in the Khomas Region at Nust and the University of Namibia (Unam).

Angula said this led to the establishment of an ad hoc committee with the sole purpose of spearheading and resolving the continuous student challenges.

He said they have given NSFAF and Bank Windhoek until today to issue cards to all senior students and to commence with paying out the pending fees.

“We do not want to beg NSFAF, but the issues must be sorted out as soon as possible, as we do not want the next SRC leaders to fight for the same issues,” he said.

He added that according to NSFAF the cards will be loaded with non-tuition fees, but that has not been the case.

“Some of the students are being chased away from Bank Windhoek branches and told to go and get their cards at their institutions. Students from Triumphant have to come all the way from their school just to come here. It is not right. They even told us that the cards will be loaded with funds, but that is not true,” he said.

Institute of Technology SRC president, Gertrude Onesmus stressed that students are tired of waiting on NSFAF.

She said parents are worried about whether they will now be forced to pay their children’s tertiary fees.

Bank Windhoek executive officer for marketing and corporate communication services, Jacquiline Pack, said as communicated via media conferences, as well as through NSFAF and the student leadership, they envisage the on-boarding of students to take place over a period of four months, countrywide.

“In order to meet the specific needs and requirements of the student community Bank Windhoek developed a very specific offering, whilst adapting our client on-boarding processes and developing an instant card activation solution to speed up the on-boarding process and turnaround time,” she said.

Pack added that the current on-boarding time of less than 20 minutes per student on average is a significant achievement and as of Tuesday more than 1 300 students have successfully received their cards, while also being registered to utilise Bank Windhoek’s digital channel services such as cellphone banking and mobile app offerings.

“Bank Windhoek is currently considering expanding the number of on-boarding desks at campuses to on-board at least 250 students per working day,” she said.

Pack further said students are still able to go to any of the Bank Windhoek branches in Windhoek during this period, as well as after 30 August.

Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) vice-president Benhard Kavau said it’s unacceptable that since January until now NSFAF has not done any single payment of tuition and non-tuition fees.

Kavau said it is worrisome that there still pending tuition of last year and 2017.

“The concerns are serious as students are finding means of surviving. In a post on social media a student is looking for free accommodation in Dorado and she is willing to do all the household (chores) before and after classes and during weekends, without payment. This female student is trying to survive, while also funded by NSFAF,” he said.

Kavau said by 30 August the new intake of students should sign their contracts and stressed that they don’t want to fight about the same issues again next year.

He added that if Bank Windhoek does not have capacity it should stop, claiming the bank currently issues cards to 100 students per day.

“Unam has more than 16 000 students. How long will they take to finish before the students get their funding?” he asked.

NSFAF senior manager of marketing and communications, Percy Tjahere, said they settled last year’s tuition fees.

Tjahere added it takes a bit longer for students to obtain their cards, as they fail to complete the survey while waiting in line.

He added they started off in Windhoek, as the vast majority of students are located in the capital, while the experiences of the Windhoek exercise will then be extended and applied to the other towns thereafter.

“We plan to utilise events such as trade fairs outside of Windhoek for student on-boarding purposes, whilst also considering a presence at some of the campuses to further expedite the process,” he said.

He added that NSFAF is doing its best to help students obtain their cards and stressed that his team is hard at work to ensure that the 2019 tuition fees are paid.

Pic1-Students are worried about the payment of their fees by NSFAF.



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