Lack of Accommodation Facilities at Unam

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Inadequate funds as provided by the government to the University of Namibia (Unam) is another major contributing factor to the “bleeding problem” of lack of accommodation facilities at the institution. Government has always failed to allocate adequate funds to the institution of higher learning to help ease the severe financial strain that has brought about the persisting problem of lack of accommodation. Unam spokesperson, Utaara Hoveka, yesterday told New Era that funds given to the institution every financial year by the government are not enough to enable it to attend to other pressing areas such as building accommodation facilities. For more than 10 years, the institution has failed to solve its accommodation problem, and it is not known when a solution will be found. “The budget (from government) for Unam has not been going up for some time and, for the university itself, its resources cannot allow (for such projects to be undertaken), said Hoveka. The university has made efforts to the Ministry of Education requesting for additional funds to allow construction of more accommodation rooms but, according to Hoveka, the ministry has always responded by saying there is no money for such projects. “Maybe if we asked for money to extend classrooms”, he bemoaned. The 2006/7 national budget allocated N$388 million towards the education sector. Hoveka nevertheless failed to indicate how much the institution received from this amount. Currently, the university is renovating existing housing facilities. This exercise will cost the institution about N$1-million. The university this week appealed to the public, especially members who might have rooms to let, to give preference to students at affordable prices. He reiterated that plans are under way to engage in discussions with prospective business individuals or companies who might consider constructing more hostels. Negotiations would ensure that payments do not exceed what the university is currently asking from its students. Accommodation fees for SADC students is N$8ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 330 per annum while non-SADC students cough up N$14ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 830 per year. While the university received about 5ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 student accommodation applications for this year, the institution can only shelter 1ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 080 students. Every year, Unam can only take in about 400 new students in its hostels, with the rest being those who were already in hostels during the previous year. Students who come from faraway places and who do not have friends or relatives in the Khomas region are usually given accommodation preference.