Windhoek-Government has not spared the Namibian College of Open Learning (Namcol) from the drastic budget cuts it has imposed due to the financial difficulties the country currently faces, and has slashed the institution’s budget by nearly N$67 million.
Namcol Director Heroldt Murangi yesterday said that during the 2016/17 financial year, Namcol received about N$151 million which had been severely cut, as the college would only receive about N$84 million for all its operational and developmental costs.
Murangi made the remarks yesterday when he officially launched the Namcol student portal, where he announced the budget cuts and introduced new 2018 academic programmes.
He said that due to a grim financial situation, Namcol management had put some measures in place to cope under these difficult circumstances.
“Our subvention is reduced by almost 47 percent. We have developed a culture of operating within our means. We are good at complying with relevant legislations.
“That is why you did not read in your papers that Namcol failed to pay contributions to social security, pension fund, medical aid or tax. We have to comply and that’s why we said, this is the current budget we have. So what do we have to do so it will not affect our students negatively?” he asked.
He announced that Namcol would suspend its contact session for secondary education in the last term. Normally, learners would receive tuition for three weeks in the last term for revision purposes.
They had observed over the years that average attendance dropped to as low as 30 percent at the various tutorial centres, because of the external examinations starting mid-September.
However, he said they would use those three weeks for the Grade 12 learners’ oral assessment in English and African languages.
Therefore, he urged all the Grade 10 and 12 learners to work hard during this term and sit for the mock examinations that will start on 26 July 2017 and end on 23 August 2017.
He also announced that as from 2018, the college would reduce the number of weekly contact sessions for Grade 10 from five to three hours to align it to the three hours currently offered to the Grade 12 learners.
“Namcol has now entered the arena where we have to think out of the box. These limitations necessitated by our current economic landscape will not impede our delivery; our learners will remain our first priority,” he pledged.
He said the institution would never compromise on learners’ futures, in particular when it comes to study material, saying they don’t believe in students sharing books.
This prompted the college to rather cut its hours as learners can independently study on their own.
Murangi said the institution was looking into other means of raising revenue.
Through one of the business unit it had established, Namcol would venture into the sale of its study manuals, which are sold through the ministry of Education, Arts and Culture for use in secondary schools throughout Namibia.
The chairperson of the Namcol governing board Justin Ellis said it was painful for a growing institution to go through severe budget cuts, although it was not the only institution going through such cuts.
Ellis said Namcol had a very cautious and conservative way of spending and ensured it did not spend money it had not budgeted for.
However, if Namcol continued to receive such a reduced subsidy, then it would have a negative impact on the institution’s reserves, which would come under strain.
He explained that as an institution Namcol did not have a mandate to borrow money if the situation became unbearable.
“At the moment we can cope. The difficulty for us is the way going forward. If we continue to receive such reduced subsidy, then our reserves and backups will come under strain.
“But our concern is what will happen if the situation become difficult to sustain, if we are talking about reduced subsidy over a long period of time, then certainly we will be in a very awkward situation,” he remarked.
Equally, Ellis stated that Namcol is quite flexible, since they operate with a relatively small workforce.
Namcol has about 110 full-time employees and over 1,200 part-time workers.
Murangi also launched the new programmes the college has introduced, which include the certificate in business and entrepreneurship, and the bachelor’s degree in youth development, both of which will start next year.