By Reagan Malumo
Allegations of corruption at the Zambezi Vocational Training Centre (ZVTC) dating back to last year’s demonstration by trainees are resurfacing, with major concerns mounting on whether solutions were found to address the trainees’ concerns.
In their petition last year, the trainees accused staff of embezzling trainees’ loans and nepotism at the institution.
Dissatisfied with solutions to their problems so far, the trainees say the institution has failed to address their plight. They say since the beginning of this year, they have not received their meal and material fees.
They revealed that they have tried repeatedly to take up the issue with the institution’s management but they are always told off.
“We are always told that we are not here for money, but how can we learn on empty stomachs,” complained one trainee who preferred to remain anonymous.
The trainees start classes at 07h00 until 15h00 Monday to Friday without anything to eat. They complained that they are never given financial statements stipulating the amount of loan awarded to them by the Ministry of Education and how their funds are utilised, nor are they given the balance.
They do not get refunds on surplus money on their annual loans nor are they given options on the type of training clothes they have to buy. The institution buys the training wear for them.
Approached to comment the acting principal at the centre, Gerrie de Villiers, dismissed the trainees’ allegations as devoid of truth.
She said the trainees’ loans are administered in accordance with the Ministry of Education guidelines. She admitted that the trainees have not received their meal fees since last year and said the ministry is yet to deposit their loans into the centre’s account.
She called on trainees to be patient and promised that the funds would be ready within the coming two to three weeks.
De Villiers denied allegations that trainees are not given financial statements with breakdown of usage of the loans. She said instructors are always told to provide the trainees with all the information regarding their funds.
She also explained that the trainees are not refunded the balance on their annual loans until they complete training as the funds are kept to subsidise their studies should they fail to complete training within the stipulated period.
She said those who complete all subjects up to third year and have a balance on their loans get refunds.
There have been repeated calls by the trainees and community for a hostel to be constructed at the centre, but De Villiers said she does not know when the hostel would be constructed at the centre as they are yet to hear from the Ministry of Education about the request.
Meanwhile, Luxemburg Cooperation has completed N$40 million renovations to upgrade the centre. The upgraded structures include small and medium enterprise offices, a workshop centre and electronic learning centre for the public, as well as the information and a library.
De Villiers promised that the ZVTC shall continue to be a centre for excellence that aims at transforming the Caprivi into a knowledge-based society.