The Hifikepunye Pohamba Foundation has to date provided financial assistance for educational purposes to about 700 vulnerable and disadvantaged learners from all walks of life in Namibia.
The objective of the Hifikepunye Pohamba Foundation is to provide financial assistance for educational purpose to needy youth in Namibia. The Foundation offers such assistance through the establishment of educational grants for students, as well as through the advancement of educational opportunities for vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
The non-profit organisation also caters for further educational needs within the overall objectives of the Foundation, as the trustees at their sole discretion may deem fit.
In an interview with Dr Kalumbi Shangula, chairman of the Hifikepunye Pohamba Foundation Board of Trustees, he said the charity recognises the obstacles to accessing educational opportunities, especially among vulnerable communities in Namibia.
“The establishment of the Foundation is intended to mitigate these limitations. A key priority of the Foundation is to close the gap among the learners from poorer and those from more affluent backgrounds and to ensure that every young person participates in and benefits from educational opportunities in Namibia,” he explained.
The Hifikepunye Pohamba Foundation was launched on June 7, 2014 and according to Shangula, about 11 welfare organisations from 12 regions benefit from the Fund in cash and in kind.
Without mentioning names, he said one school benefited in kind, while another tertiary institution benefitted in cash. To date, he said, the total value of the assistance offered is N$120 000, from which at least 700 children benefited.
At tertiary level, he said, nine students benefitted from the Foundation, of which six have graduated while three are still busy with their studies. Last year, the Fund, which was registered as a trust in 2014, gave scholarships to the first batch of tertiary students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The seven beneficiaries are all Bachelor of Agriculture students at the University of Namibia (Unam) and the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN), who have proven records of outstanding academic performance. Six of the seven students received N$15 000 in cash each and a laptop, while the seventh student will get a full scholarship.
The Foundation, formed after former president Hifikepunye Pohamba celebrated his birthday in 2012, is geared towards ensuring food security through education. At the time, congratulatory birthday messages flooded the newspapers, which prompted Pohamba to urge individuals and the corporate community to rather donate towards the Trust to assist the needy, instead of wasting money on congratulatory messages in the press.
When Pohamba saw his photos in every newspaper on his birthday, and taking into account that the adverts had to be paid for, he decided to establish a Fund and appealed to the corporate world and wealthy individuals to instead contribute to the Fund, so as to assist children from poorer backgrounds.
As the Fund started to grow Pohamba decided to formalise it and convert it into a legal entity that was launched in 2014. The Fund has an annual budget not exceeding N$250 000. Asked about the eligibility criteria, Shangula said the candidate should satisfy certain conditions, for example, one must be a Namibian between 18 and 35 years old. He or she must be an orphan or destitute, or a person living with disability.
Equally, applicants must have a proven record of outstanding educational performance and must be enrolled at a primary, secondary or tertiary education institution in Namibia. Moreover, Shangula noted that one may be enrolled at institutions outside Namibia, in cases where such qualifications are not offered in Namibia.
When an applicant is approved for funding, the Foundation covers all expenses related to their studies, such as tuition, books, and laptops among other learning materials, he explained.
He said calls for applications for funding are annually advertised in the media and close on November 30 every year. He emphasised that no applications will be considered after the due date.