By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Due to a severe skills shortage, Namibia currently does not have a single qualified person in the field of Actuarial Science. Actuarial Science, or an Actuary is someone who has the knowledge of annually analysing the soundness of pension funds, by looking at whether the funds can meet the future liabilities of the country. On its part, the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) saw the need to address the gaping shortage in the financial industry especially in the fields of Actuarial Science, Information Technology (IT) and Commercial studies. Hence, the GIPF provided bursaries to three of the six students to study Actuarial Science at universities in South Africa this year, through the company’s Bursary Scheme. This is the first time since the inception of the scheme in 2001, that the Fund has attracted students interested in this field. Speaking at the bursary hand-over ceremony in Windhoek on Tuesday, the Chief Executive Officer of GIPF, Primus Hango, said that whereas in the past the Fund used to support students studying Accountancy, the need for fostering Actuarial Science studies is even greater. This is especially the case in a country where there is not even a single qualified Namibian in Actuarial Science. “We like to add to the skills and knowledge of our financial industry. The industry faces shortages in Actuarial Science, I.T. and Commerce. We are struggling to produce an Actuary and there is no Namibian qualified as an Actuary,” said Hango, adding that it was quite fortunate to find out that three of the six bursary beneficiaries are taking up studies in this much-needed field this academic year. These students are Ujandja Zatjirua from Otjozondjupa who’ll be studying at the University of Stellenbosch, Jennifer Nehoya from the Khomas Region and Gongeleni Nambambi from the Oshana Region who will both take up their tertiary studies at the University of Pretoria. The other three students who will be based at the University of Namibia and the Polytechnic of Namibia this year are Wesley William from the Karas Region and Gertrude Shindimba from the Kavango Region who will both be studying Law, as well as Penavarue Kasaona from the Kunene Region who will study Information Technology. The six students were chosen from 1ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 800 applications submitted to the Fund last year. Each bursary, to the value of N$ 30ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 per student, covers tuition, boarding, pocket money, transport and accommodation. According to the Chairperson of the Bursary Committee, Lea Namoloh (who is also the Director the Bank of Namibia), the bursary mainly sponsors those previously disadvantaged students or those who cannot afford to pay for their tertiary education. “We made sure that there is a spectrum of beneficiaries from the various regions of the country, and we normally look at those who have a good academic record but who are also unable to pay for their studies,” said Namoloh. With the latest beneficiaries, the Fund currently supports 22 students, while the total expenditure of the budget spent on them amounted to N$574ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 942 last year. This year, the amount has risen to N$650ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000.