Negative publicity of students financial assistance fund has come to en end – minister
Eight brave individuals assumed the unenviable task of righting the dangerously lilting ship of the students financial assistance fund when they were sworn in as board members on Wednesday this week.
At a small ceremony in the Higher Education boardroom, the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Hon Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi welcomed the new board members under the chairmanship of Development Bank communications guru, Jerome Mutumba. The other members are the Deputy Chair, Dr Christina Swart–Opperman, Ananias Abner, Tulimeke Munyika, Dr Isak Neema, Dr Natascha Cheikhyoussef, Stephen Tjiuoro and Adda Angula.
This Gideon’s band is expected to iron out all the myriad of legacy problem with which the fund has been beleagured over many years.
The fund was constituted by an Act of Parliament in 2000. New boards were supposed to be appointed every three years but the new board is only the third, implying that the fund’s two previous boards had been operating unconstitutionally for sixteen years.
Without directly listing the chaos at the fund, the minister urged the new board to bring sound governance back to this key financing mechanism for tertiary education. “I expect this board to provide clear, effective guidance and leadership to the fund’s affairs, to take correct and decisive actions the improve governance and service delivery, and to restore the public trust in the fund,” she said.
She further advised the board to look at relevant processes needed to expedite the fund’s transformation, cautioning them not to affect service delivery negatively.
Reminding the new board that the fund’s reason for existence is the funding of deserving students, the minister said the fund is the government’s main instrument for expanding access to higher education.
“With 8000 Grade 12 learners having qualified to access higher education institutions – what innovative ways can the board and the fund come up with to ensure that the majority of those who qualified and in particular those learners who come from poor and impoverished backgrounds, are identified and given an opportunity to study?” the minister asked.
“Efforts should be made to improve and simplify selection procedures and records. Correct statistics should be kept and be readily available at all times, depicting allocations. There are challenges that will require your collective wisdom as board. The negative publicity has to come to an end,” the minister stated.
Pictured at the inauguration of the third board of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Funds, seated from the left, the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Hon Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi, Board Chairperson Jerome Mutumba, the Deputy Minister, Hon Dr Becky Ndjoze- Ojo and the Permanent Secretary Dr Alfred van Kent. Standing are the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Dr Raimo Naanda, Tulimeka Munyika, Dr Isak Neema, Dr Natascha Cheikhyoussef, Stephen Tjiuoro and Adda Angula.