By Frederick Philander
Despite consistent complaints by students and parents over high subject study fees at the Namibia College of Open Learning (Namcol), the institution has announced a further fee increase of seven percent over the next three years.
This announcement was made during a press conference on Thursday by Namcol’s director Heroldt Murgangi.
“In 2002 Cabinet approved an incremental fee structure, which became operative in 2003 for five years. This fee structure, introduced to meet the higher costs incurred to provide additional services as part of the open mode of study, lapsed at the end of last year,” said Murangi on behalf of the institution’s board of governors.
According to him, Namcol in 2006 commissioned an international expert on the cost and financing of open and distance learning with regard to alternative funding charges.
“The report stated that a drastic fee increase will lead to a sharp decline of student enrollment,” the director said of the enrollment, which last year stood at 28 000 part-time learners countrywide.
The government learning institute is expecting a decline in learner numbers because of the fee increase of N$7 per subject in Grade 10 and N$11 per subject in Grade 12.
The study fees now stand at N$107 for Grade 10 and N$171 for Grade 12.
“Though no one is happy when prices are increased, such consumer price index-linked adjustments are commonplace and have come to be accepted by the public. Since wages and salaries also tend to increase in line with inflation, Namcol fees should remain constant relative to household disposal income,” Murangi said.
He recognised the fact that many prospective learners are living with extremely limited financial resources.
“Namcol has an obligation to ensure that disadvantaged learners continue to have access to education services. In this regard the establishing of a scholarship scheme for needy learners has been approved by the Namcol governing board for introduction this year,” said Murangi, who proposed the scheme be supported by the private sector and the general public.
Namcol students are expected to enroll for the new academic year as from this morning (Monday) at 135 enrolment centres throughout the country.
“Taken into consideration that 28 percent of the Grade 10s, who last year registered for the examination have studied with the College of Open Learning, we play a significant role in alleviating public pressure on the formal education system. We have achieved the highest percentage of 90,9 percent graded entries so far,” he said proudly.