The Namibian National Students Organisation (NANSO) says it is worrried that some state-sponsored students might become sex workers out of desperation after government announced on
Wednesday that it can no longer afford to pay the previously promised non-tuition fees due to the current economic crisis.
The Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi, told demonstrating students this week that the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) will only be able to pay students’ tuition fees, but will no longer pay refunds because government has no money to do so.
NSFAF had previously committed to pay a fee of N$17,000 to students continuing their students as well as new intakes, for their non-tuition fees for the 2018 academic year.
NANSO and NSFAF signed an agreement in June that outstanding students fees would be paid on or before 31 July, however, the agreement fell through last week Tuesday.
The minister addressed close to 200 students from various institutions of higher learning after they marched to the minstry’s offices to express their frustrations with the late payment of their fees.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer, NANSO Vice President, Bernard Kavau, said students could be forced into sex work in order to fund their studies.
“I am afraid that lack of funds could result into prostitution for both the boy and girl child who need to pay their fees because there is no money.
“It could increase the case of gender based violence, STIs, and some students could commit suicide because they don’t see a future for themselves any longer,” Kavau said.
He said a lot of students had already been threatened with eviction from their flats because of non-payment of their accommodation costs.
Some students were also not attending class because they do not have enough taxi money for transportaiton and some have been unable to buy the necessary study materials.
“Due to this predicament, there have been a lot of failures in the past semester,” Kavau said.
Otja Kambaikwa, a Journalism and Media studies student at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), said that the reason he took part in the demonstration was because his school was demanding that he pay off his outstanding fees.
“I decided to be a part of this because I need money to study. Without that money, I am unable to do anything at school. The school is demanding I pay the money for the supporting costs of my coursework and I do not have it.”
Vice President of the UNAM Students Representative Council, Inna Hengari, said on social media that some of the students who were protesting on Wednesday were physically injured and torn emotionally after the demonstration.
According to Hengari, some students were beaten, while others were shot at with rubber bullets and teargas.