Windhoek-Treasury has stepped in with additional funds of N$150 million to the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), which has run out of funds to guarantee payments to students enrolling for the 2018 academic year.
Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein explained to New Era late yesterday evening that the funding would be “one part extra-budgetary bridging finance for the current financial year and the second part will form part of the education budget for the 2018/19 financial year.”
Government’s actions follow newspaper reports that the University of Namibia, the Namibia University of Science and Technology, and International University of Management would not accept acknowledgement letters as guarantee of payment for students who are beneficiaries of NSFAF. The institutions demand that students show documents that give surety that a loan has been awarded to a specific student by NSFAF, as a guarantee that the fund would pay the tuition fees.
Social media platforms were yesterday flush with jubilant responses to the news of extra funds to NSFAF, with reports that the government agreed to allocate extra funds after a meeting between leaders of the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) and senior government officials.
The public broadcaster, NBC, later posted that “President Hage Geingob today announced that government will bail out NSFAF with N$150 million. Tertiary institutions earlier this month refused to register students with confirmation letters from NSFAF as it did not guarantee payment for students.”
NSFAF finished the 2017 academic year with reports of financial problems, with the fund owing N$200 million in unpaid tuition fees for students who are beneficiaries.
As a result, in October universities decided to hold on to the academic results for all students whose fees were not paid by NSFAF.
This prompted a mass demonstration by Nanso, and the subsequent meeting with the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation that resulted in NSFAF pledging to settle the debts before year-end.