The leadership of the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) is calling on government to urgently consider building a student village in Windhoek to counteract exorbitant rental fees.
Nanso said the failure do to so would force desperate students to erect their own illegal shacks on and around campuses in the city. “We are referring to all tertiary institutions in Windhoek. Accommodation has been monopolised to the highest extent over the past few years,” Nanso Secretary for Education and Research, Ashwell Forbes said.
“If government does not look into the aspect of building a student village during the next financial year, then we will be forced to put up our kambashus (shacks) inside the campuses’ premises… because [living on] the street shall never be an option while Nanso breathes.”
Forbes yesterday told New Era they would give government until the 2016/17 financial year to see to it that such a student village is budgeted for and built.
Over the years students, who have to travel long distances from their home villages and towns for tertiary education, have found themselves in desperate situations without proper accommodation in and around their places of study due to the excessively high rental fees charged by landlords.
Asked where they wish the student village to be constructed, Forbes said it should be in Windhoek and should be affordable to students. He said accommodation remains one of the biggest challenges facing students who leave their home towns to go to universities, as hostels at tertiary institutions in Windhoek cannot accommodate all of them, and renting off campus has become equally unaffordable.
The Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi was not prepared to go into the issue yesterday. “I’ve just arrived back at the office today and, honestly, I think what you are asking of me could be dealt with a little later,” she said. Kandjii-Murangi’s deputy, Dr Becky Ndjoze Ojo, also declined to comment, saying “my minister is the mouthpiece of the government at the ministry.”
Although many desperate University of Namibia (Unam) students were happy to find a place at the privately-owned Emona hostel – which initially struggled to fill rooms due to their high rental fees – several students have been evicted this year as they failed to keep up with the rental fees.
For a room at Emona students pay between N$2 100 and N$2 300 per month per person sharing.
Unam’s student representative council has been lobbying for some time to have the fees at Emona reduced, but to no avail, as the company that constructed the first private student accommodation facilities at a cost of some N$80 million (Hanganeni Emona Investments) has repeatedly dismissed any possibility of reducing their fees.