The Kunene region has benefited the least countrywide from the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) in terms of undergraduate awards for the past five years aimed at both local and regional prospects.
This was revealed yesterday by NSFAF chief human and corporate affairs officer, Olavi Hamwele, during a national stakeholder engagement meeting between the fund management team and regional councils in a bid towards an educated Namibia.
Hamwele said Kunene region has over the years been ranked the lowest in terms of student financial aid and has had no international graduates during 2014 and last year, compared to other regions.
According to statistics provided by NSFAF, Kunene recorded a mere total of 222 for undergraduate awards over the past five years among other lowly ranked regions, namely Omaheke (308), Hardap (412), Karas (639) and Otjozondjupa (1 001).
Khomas region ranked the highest in terms of undergraduate awards per region between 2011 and 2015, with a total number of 5 145 eligible students, followed by Omusati (5 011), Oshana (4 955), Oshikoto (3 802) and Ohangwena with 3 213.
NSFAF has spent approximately N$32.5 million between 2011 and 2014 on postgraduate awards in the top 10 awarded fields such as finance (chartered accountancy 68 percent), education (40 percent), ICT (31 percent), medicine (14 percent), agriculture (13 percent), environmental and land management (11 percent), engineering (12 percent), English (10 percent), science (14 percent) and law (11 percent).
Although Otjozondjupa is a vast region, it only recorded a total of 1 001 over the past five years, while Kavango West had 1 390 eligible students compared to Kavango East with 402. Erongo has 1 360 students recorded between 2011 and 2015 compared to Zambezi with 1 473 students the same period.
New Era caught up with some regional officials from poor ranking regions to shed light on the root causes.
Victor Mabone, Omaheke regional education deputy director attributes the high failure rates to the intake into the fund being so low.
Otjozondjupa regional council chief regional officer, Janeth Kuhanga, said the region is vast, and remote areas such as Tsumkwe do not have access to information such as that on NSFAF.
Hardap regional education director Mzingisi Gqwede said there are many factors prompting low numbers of students qualifying for funding.
According to him, there are three secondary schools in Rehoboth where learners upon completion of Grade 10 leave the region for Khomas to take up further studies in grades 11 and 12.
“I simply don’t have the students to qualify for such funding since they leave for Khomas. We have six high schools in Hardap and many of these students leave the region. I don’t have many learners. My situation is not going to change. Hardap is unable to provide scholarships for our learners, so the learners leave for Khomas,” he said.
In addition, NSFAF company secretary, Wise Immanuel, advised officials that operate at regional and constituency levels, who have physical presence and geographical knowledge on the locality of students, to tackle challenges they face in terms of accessing the fund.