Lack of basics such as toiletries for the first intake of about 50 Namibian students studying at the Loudima Institute for Technical and Vocational Training in Congo-Brazzaville have forced some parents to recall their children to Namibia.
New Era spoke to some affected parents, who preferred not to be named, about the dire living conditions their children have had to endure since their departure in March this year for Congo-Brazzaville.
“I have called my child back home. The two governments abandoned our children and failed in their promises to care for them. The kids are depressed due to the living conditions at the institution. I was always sending money, while a deal was entered that both governments would take care of them. At the moment my child is at home, and we will look at other higher learning institutions here next year,” a distressed parent said.
New Era was also reliably informed that Namibian instructors are suffering as well and wish that the Namibian government stops sending students to the institute if the students cannot be properly cared for.
Of the 50 Namibian students sent in March about five have returned due to various reasons.
According to parents, their children only received $100 as a stipend in March – which at the time was about N$1 300 – when in Okahandja to attend their orientation programme before their departure.
But upon their arrival in Congo-Brazzaville they apparently received a mere N$300 from June to date.
The aggrieved students wrote a letter – dated November 12, 2015 – to Vicky Hendrick, the Loudima institute council member on the Namibian side, who is also the project coordinator.
The students said they are in a financial crisis and need urgent support from the Namibian government for their hygiene and upkeep.
Currently, they said, they only receive 500g of washing powder, two 125g bars of face soap, a roll of toilet paper, a pack of eight sanitary pads for girls, blades for shaving for boys and two 35g bars of hard soap.
“These toiletries are supplied once in two months which is not sufficient for the upkeep of hygiene. The institute has proven it cannot provide more than that to 100 students, forcing students to become beggars and even prostitutes,” the letter says.
The students proposed that since Namibian students are far from their parents, government should look into complementing their needs by paying on a monthly basis an amount of money into individuals’ accounts to cater for other needs such as deodorants, lotions and underwear.
When contacted for comment, Hendrick said she did not receive the students’ letter, but confirmed that government is sending another intake of 50 students.
“I did not receive it yet. They are talking about something we have already discussed. They should just be patient. But the money sent there is enough for the time being,” she said, while refusing to divulge the budget allocated for the students.
“The students are not supposed to know the budget. The budget is for the maintenance of them and the school. There is no need for them to know the budget.”
On those who came back to Namibia, she said about five returned due to various reasons such as pregnancies and other health related complications.
Last year October, the Ministry of Education invited applications for study opportunities at the Loudima institute after President Hifikepunye Pohamba and his Congolese counterpart, Denis Sassou Nguesso, inaugurated it.
At the opening the institute was hailed as a symbol of solidarity, friendship and commitment between the people of the Republic of Congo and the Republic of Namibia.
The Loudima institute was established to create a cadre of graduates with competencies and skills in line with national and international standards to meet the demands of industry – locally and internationally.