Contrary to perceptions that students from Kavango East and Kavango West are marginalised by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) that awards students loans and scholarships, it has emerged the two regions are getting scholarships in proportion to their population size, in most cases better than other regions.
Uzokumwe – a pressure group formed by some residents of the two Kavango regions – last year wrote a letter to the Office of the Vice-President Dr Nickey Iyambo in which they claimed that residents of Kavango East and Kavango West are being sidelined by the government and that they do not get their fair share of the national cake.
But at a community consultative meeting held in Rundu on Tuesday to wind up Vice-President Dr Nickey Iyambo’s six-day visit to the two regions, NSFAF chief human capital and corporate affairs officer, Olavi Hamwele, said more student loans and scholarships are being granted to the two regions.
Citing NSFAF award statistics from 2012 to 2016, Hamwele explained that the merit-based award system is not based on regions
because every eligible student receives financial assistance from NSFAF that uses academic performance and the priority fields of study.
In 2016, he said, 122 students from Kavango West and 461 from Kavango East were awarded scholarships and student loans, compared to //Kharas that received 117 and Kunene 74.
The awards for Kavango East as a percentage of the population stood at 0.1 of 107, while for Kavango East it stood at 0.4 of its population of 115, 477. The award as a percentage of the population of 181, 973 for Oshikoto was 0.5, while for Oshana (176,674) it was 0.6. For Zambezi with a population of 90,596 it was 0.4, for Ohangwena with a population of 245,446 it was 0.3, for Omaheke with its population of 71,233 it was 0.1, for Kunene it was also 0.1.
For Otjozondjupa with a population of 143,903 it was 0.2, for Erongo with 150,809 it was 0.3.
“They (Uzokumwe) alleged that the Kavango West and Kavango East are kind of discriminated against in terms of loans and student grants awarded by NSFAF. For us we are saying there is no such thing as discrimination – however we appreciate any suggestion to benefit the two regions more, but in terms of the statistics as compared to the population proportion the two regions are basically in the top three of awards as a percentage of the population,” explained Hamwele after the community consultative meeting on Tuesday.
NSFAF funding averaging N$34,000 annually covers 100 percent tuition and 80 percent for meals, and thousands of Namibian students are allocated these grants and student loans.
The consultative meeting on Tuesday was addressed by Iyambo, and those in attendance included the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Tommy Nambahu, Kavango East Governor Dr Samuel Mbambo, Kavango West Governor Sirkka Ausiku and other senior government officials.