…. call for free education
KEETMANSHOOP – The Regional Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) Secretary for Information, Mobilisation and Publicity in the //Karas Region, Benedick Louw says the government should halt moves to recover hundreds of millions in bad student loans.
Recently the Ministry of Education said it has handed over the names of over 5000 students and former students to the Office of the Attorney General for possible legal action regarding the outstanding loans owed to the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF). Louw condemned the decision to compel the students and former students to repay the loans. The defaulters owe the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) more than N$375.7 million it has emerged. Not only has Louw condemned the move to recover the money, but he also called for the complete abolishment of payment for education in Namibia, adding that government should urgently adopt state-directed development policies given the shortage of qualified Namibians in the workforce.
“Very few of them manage to secure jobs soon after they have graduated and even if you look at the quality of jobs then it is senseless for government to demand that they repay the loans. This is the time that they should build their lives, maybe buy a few goats or cattle, but instead government wants them to pay back what they cannot afford,” Louw said. He further argued that government should consider the fact that the few students who manage to secure jobs ultimately pay taxes and therefore do contribute to government coffers and should as a result not be asked to repay the loans. “Why can Namibia with a 2.2 million population not have education for free, but we have Botswana with 3 million where people go to university without paying a cent. Why can this not take place in an independent Namibia? Now they want students to pay back loans, these students are perhaps struggling with mortgages,” said the SPYL leader. He further emphasised that government should take a serious approach towards uplifting and empowering previously disadvantaged students, arguing that the current system continues to perpetuate the prosperity of previously advantaged communities. “Many things have culminated into us not having opportunities. The whites crafted the future of their children so well, they do not even have to work but their children will be taken care of financially,” explained Louw.
According to Louw, the economic system never changed after independence and was crafted in such a manner that it would ensure the continued slavery of previously disadvantaged Namibians by the whites. “We cannot expect miracles to happen in a situation where the person is so reduced to believe that they can only work for other people. This will not change in the current environment, because the system never really changed. That is why we as the SPYL call for state-directed development. Government must take full responsibility for its people. After all it is a win-win situation,” Louw said. The office of the Attorney General made it clear last week that it will not rest until all student defaulters are brought to book.
By Jemima Beukes