The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) awarded scholarships to 15 students living with disabilities to study at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Botswana.
The students were presented with the funds last week at a handover ceremony in the capital in front of their friends and family.
The NSFAF has made N$100 000 per year available for each student.
A group of 12 students will follow the first group next year. A third group to study at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) in Malaysia will leave at the same time as the group heading for Botswana.
NSFAF undertook the special initiative to identify students with disabilities and send them for studies as a group. Their conditions range from being visually challenged to wheelchair-bound and hearing impaired.
The programme, which is fully funded by NSFAF, is designed according to the requirements of learners with special needs. Their fields of study include communication and media, design and innovation, architecture and interior design, information technology and business management.
Speaking at the handing over of grants, the Deputy Minister of Disability Affairs in the Vice-President’s Office, Alexia Manombe-Ncube, said: “There is no better way of empowering a person than enabling them to get an education. For too long Namibians living with disabilities have been looked down upon and often denied access to opportunities on assumption that they cannot do anything. This kind of attitude or perception does not only affect their self-esteem and confidence, but also robs the country of the opportunity to benefit from the talents, abilities and services of citizens living with disabilities.”
The special initiative sprang from the recent joint visit by Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi and NSFAF board members to LUCT in Malaysia. The university offers various programmes focused on innovation, technology and creativity and has facilities for people with special needs.
The deputy minister urged the beneficiaries to use the opportunity wisely and do Namibia proud. “This is a good intention and an inclusive approach by the government, through the deeds of NSFAF. Go and fly our flag high and come back to contribute to the country’s development,” she encouraged.
Meanwhile, Hilya Nghwete, the CEO of NSFAF emphasised the need to facilitate and make the opportunity to study available to all Namibians. She said it is important that all young people who wish to study get the chance and receive the necessary financial aid.
The NSFAF’s mandate in terms of Act 26 of 2000 is to provide financial assistance in the form of a loan or grant to eligible students at approved institutions of higher learning, and to recover money from beneficiaries upon completion of their studies.