Permanent Secretary of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Alfred van Kent
Some Namibian students at the Loudima Institute for Technical and Vocational Training in Congo-Brazzaville have threatened to commit suicide if the Namibian government does not expedite their return back home.
In a letter sent to New Era, students at Loudima claim “a number of students have attempted to commit suicide by dropping in a nearby river at the institution (sic) because government has ignored their cry to return home, despite our several attempts and request to return home. Our leaders are betraying us, how can they let us suffer like this?”
“We can’t afford to live in this dying condition anymore, we will be better off if we go back home. Some of our parents have already made transport fee arrangements so that we can return,” they added in the letter.
At least 72 students want to come back home, from the slightly over 100 students at the institution.
In the letter they further claim that Loudima is still without water and electricity despite the visit of a Namibian delegation comprised of the Namibian Ambassador to Congo-Brazzaville, Vilio Hifindaka, and the Permanent Secretary of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Alfred van Kent, who promised to have the utility services reconnected last month after the students protested.
The threats follow numerous concerns raised by the students in the past, including the allegation that Congolese police shot at them last month.
The alleged shooting took place during an apparent attempt to stop them from demonstrating and the students’ attempt to prevent police from arresting a Namibian accused of instigating students to petition the institute’s management.
The institute is said to be situated in the forest with the nearest town located about 100km away.
The Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr Iita Kandjii-Murangi, said she was not aware of the latest developments in the matter.
“I am not aware of the matter and am currently not in the country, forward all your queries to the permanent secretary,” she told New Era.
“We have heard a lot of these threats before, so it is an ongoing story. However we are working on the situation. Our director on the other side is busy identifying those that want to return home and once that is done we will make a plan to bring them back,” stressed Van Kent.
“Yes, we have noted the challenges they are facing. Obviously they will be brought back and enrolled locally,” stated Van Kent.
Emphasising that the challenges were health related, he said: “Health is a major issue with which they are faced, but some of them went with their health issues and did not disclose them before they left. So the necessary arrangements will be done soon once my director has completed and exhausted all options,” he added.
Students in the past have also claimed that the Namibian government has failed to pay them the promised N$1 000 monthly allowance, to which Kandjii-Murangi responded on NBC News last month that each student got a one-off payment of N$1 420 and a monthly allowance of 300CA francs.