A first-year undergraduate student enrolled at the University of Namibia explained her ordeal and ongoing frustrations. The Namibia student financial assistance fund (NSFAF) can only support close to 3000 students.
Linea Awala, who has just begun her journey to become a chartered accountant, is one of the 12,000 students left out in the country. The students’ assistance fund reported last month that out of 15,087 new students who met the minimum requirements for funding, only 2,925 would receive financing from NSFAF this year.
According to Linea, who was raised in Swakopmund, this situation comes with a whole lot of emotional baggage, including stress. The fact that it is exam time right now and my main focus is to pass these exams and avoid writing supplementary exams. The challenge is that we have to pay all tuition fees by the end of this month or else we will not see our results.” Evidently, this could not have come at a worse time. Furthermore, some students at other institutions must pay 50% of their tuition fees in order to write exams.
Linea further explains that the constant worry of if I do not pay the outstanding money, will I be allowed to come back to school next year? Students are thinking of leaving school not because they want to but because they do not have a choice.”
With both her parents self-employed, coming up with close to N$30,000 is out of the question. For hostel students who do not have any family or relatives in those cities, the situation may even be worse with many thinking of quitting school.
Ultimately a gap may result in the economy with a group of hardworking individuals with limited opportunity to further pursue their studies. Recently, calls and appeals from student representative bodies have called on the government to rescue the situation. It is clear that they are not the only ones affected but also their immediate families.
With 44 points at Grade 12, Linea remains hopeful saying “maybe it is just a test of faith”. I’ve worked hard all these years through school. What remains of the future if these bright minds return to the streets and occupy the unemployment bench?
By Isaac Chikosi
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