The Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) vice-president, Stanley Kavetu, has accused the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi, of making a mockery of students’ accommodation when she called on communities to be prepared and willing to house students in their homes and flats at a nominal cost.
Nanso reacted to a comment in parliament by Kandjii-Murangi when she compared Namibia to other countries where university students are accommodated in communities in close proximity to campuses. The minister said Namibian communities close to university campuses should understand that their support and assistance are needed.
Kandjii-Murangi was responding to the DTA of Namibia’s Nico Smit on the threat by Nanso to erect shacks on campuses around the country if student accommodation is not addressed by March 2017. The comment did not go down well with the Nanso leadership, who over the years have being pushing for cheaper and safe student accommodation.
“The whole statement is a mockery and it’s not even an attempt to address the issue. Maybe it’s just a political statement for opposition parties. Everybody with common sense knows that such an issue will not be addressed in such a manner and nobody (landlords) around campuses will reduce their rent. These people are there for business,” Kavetu said.
The Students Representative Council Forum for higher education institutions recently threatened that should government institutions fail to show any willingness to provide adequate accommodation for students, students would erect shacks around campuses as temporary accommodation by March next year.
Nanso is demanding that government allocate a certain amount of money to public institutions of higher learning, such as the University of Namibia (Unam) and Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), in the next financial year strictly for student accommodation
“We don’t want to see a situation where Unam and NUST are saying they didn’t budget for student accommodation or they don’t have money. This mandate should come straight from government to budget for these institutions. This is the only way we can address this issue,” he said.
He vowed that failure by government to make any commitment, Nanso will go ahead with their threat to erect shacks on campuses come March 2017.
“In fact Unam has enough land available. All we need to do is have students move their shacks from Agste Laan and Katutura, wherever they’ve built their shacks, to Unam. With NUST, where they built the new building, there is vacant land. We will consult with Oscar Mwandingi (NUST student leader) on how we can implement the issue at NUST,” Kavetu vowed.
Unam took steps and entered into a private-public partnership (PPP) to construct the Emona hostels at the main campus, which students have been complaining are too costly.
Rental charges at Emona hostels range between N$2 300 and N$2 600 per person sharing per month.
Emona accommodates about 1 152 students, while Unam main campus accommodates 1 080, which is 16 percent of the main campus student population.
At the medical school out of 648 students, only 192 live in the hostel compared to 300 that live at Khomasdal campus out of the total 994 students. About 153 reside in the hostel at Neudamm out of a total number of 205 students.
Kandjii-Murangi has noted that NUST which is a city-based university has over the years struggled to expand its faculties, programmes and activities by having to secure adjacent properties at very high cost.
“This has been a concern for students. Unfortunately, the demand and supply of accommodation in Windhoek are driven by socio-economic factors to such an extent that even when we engage private entities to put up facilities that could be affordable for students, rental fees still remain exorbitant,” she admitted.