Namibian staff could return to Loudima soon

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-Following several months of uncertainty over their future, some Namibian staff members who left Loudima Institute for Technical and Vocational Training last year due to the unbearable living conditions in Congo-Brazzaville at the time, have hinted they could soon go back to work.

This is after most students and their instructors returned to Namibia last June amid complaints of unbearable academic and living conditions. The complaints of the students, from the first intake of 2015, centre on the fact that they did not have adequate water supply, medical facilities or any electricity at the school.

Other complaints were that there are not enough lecturers; that the institute is not accredited and that its library did not have enough books to aid their studies.
Although the instructors have been out of work for several months, they have been receiving their monthly salaries.

Some of the instructors, who have been out of work for some time, said they had a meeting with the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education, Alfred Van Kent, last month where they were informed that the refurbishment of facilities at Loudima would soon be complete.

The instructors, who asked not to be named in this interview, said they were told that a Namibian company, Etotongwe, is currently at Loudima installing electricity, water taps and wireless internet connection (Wi-Fi), among other amenities.

Although Van Kent and Higher Education Minister Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi could not be reached for confirmation, the instructors said the contractor is expected to finish work latest by October before they return to Loudima.

“We were told the contractor is likely to finish earlier and to get ready to be dispatched any time. We were also told medication will also be provided,” one instructor said.

It remains unclear whether there will be a new intake in 2017 and whether former students will ever go back, as students who opted not to return to Loudima were last year advised that they should seek admission at local vocational training centres.

Further, the instructors charged that most Congolese staff members have been relieved of their duties, as they were apparently more military than academic.

However, Vicky Hendrick, who is a member of the Loudima Institute, refuted such claims, saying the only person with military background was the colonel in charge, but he has been relieved of his duties for medical reasons.
She countered that all staff members had academic backgrounds and were well qualified. Given that the government is expected to appoint a new council, Hendricks expressed her availability to give her input when it comes to Loudima affairs, so as to benefit students and staff.
She said she has the institution at heart, as she was one of the founders in 1986. She also confirmed that the Namibian company, Etotongwe, is on site renovating the place and installing electricity and water.
According to her, staff and students were informed when they left Loudima that whoever wished to go back once the centre is complete, would be allowed to. New Era has meanwhile learned that a medication unit was also set up and two minibuses and two electrical generators allocated to the centre.
Loudima was established to produce graduates with vocational competencies and skills appropriate for industrial development in Namibia and elsewhere.
The institute was built in 1985 specifically for the children of Swapo Party members who were in exile and first opened its doors to learners in 1986. Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba inaugurated the centre in October 2014.

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