… as students resort to crime, prostitution to cope
By Maria Kandjungu
THE Swapo Youth League has expressed concern over the delayed payment to students by the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NASFAF), saying that if the Ministry of Higher Education does not intervene, it may create problems and obstacles for students ahead of the end-ofyear examinations. SPYL secretary for education Hofni Iipinge recently told Confidente that some student loan holders’ fees are still outstanding and that the ministry is yet to communicate with the university management to allow students to take their exams while the Ministry of Finance sorts out the payments. “There are [only a] few days [left] for our university students to start with their exams and up until now we don’t know whether they’re going to sit for the final exam or not.” He said, the government through the relevant line ministry did not honour its obligation regarding the timely payment of students’ fees, as they had earlier agreed in a high-level meeting. He urged the minister of high education, training and innovation and the minister of finance to see to it that young people have the right to education – free tertiary education for that matter – as the Swapo election manifesto of 2014 proposed. “The two ministers should inform the nation, as institutions did not received the communication letter through the minister of high education, as we had agreed. We don’t want a chaos and confusion” to affect the students’ performance, Iipinge said. “We cannot keep on pushing the government through its line ministries every time for things to happen. There should be an open door policy,” he added. Iipinge further accused government leaders of ignoring the needs of young people and future leaders, adding that after 28 years in power, the Swapo government is still struggling to fix the education system. He said, as SPYL secretary for education, he personally knocked on all relevant ministries’ doors for roundtable discussions and submitted valid complaints from students affected – either because they cannot register, write exam or access their academic results, because of the delayed payment to the institutions. “Some of our leaders are trying to ignore the future of our future leaders,” he opined. Iipinge also noted that they detected high dropout rates at universities due to delays in payment from government’s side. He described these delays as “disturbing” and said it was the cause of much bitterness among students. “Our students are discouraged. Some parents have given up. Peace of mind has been lost. Some of our female students became prostitutes to acquire money; some male students became criminals. He said this situation was placing students at risk because of the conditions they find themselves in, as they could be killed while stealing people’s properties, or could contract HIV by exchanging sex for money. He also noted that some students resorted to abusing alcohol drugs to cope with their problems, while high numbers of unwanted teenage pregnancies lead to a high rate of abortion in the country. While calling for urgent government intervention, Iipinge observed that the youth population is the largest demographic group in Namibia, but many have become victims of deprivation and social evils, a trend that requires intervention. “Let us as a government through the responsible ministries treat our students with the full respect they deserve,” he advised. He said there are people who are trying by all means to block the allocation of resources to students, as availed by the government. “Sometimes things of this nature are being done deliberately by individuals, so that they frustrate our students more to hate the government.” Students should be careful not to be fooled by such tendencies, he warned.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015