Embody the spirit of Harambee and pay back NSFAF loans
By Hilya Nghiwete
NSFAF Chief Executive Officer
Recent reports in the media have stated that very few former students are paying back the loans they received through NSFAF to fund their studies. This is exceedingly worrisome and disappointing.
The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) can only work and be there in the long term if funds disbursed and distributed are paid back. For years we have enabled aspiring students to pursue their dreams and enrol in tertiary or vocational education in Namibia or abroad. Which is exactly the mandate we were given through the Act of Parliament. Educating and enabling the youth of Namibia is a worthy mandate indeed, but we seem to have hit upon a rather large speedbump.
When borrowing money from friends, family, banks or anyone really the assumption is made that this money will be paid back. Often with interest. This is what our economy is based on and how common courtesy works. If money borrowed is not repaid, it basically stops all economic processes within a country. It actually means we can’t buy things, invest, or build anything for that matter.
For the Namibian House to flourish, thrive and the economy to grow the Spirit of Harambee has to be embraced by every Namibian. This includes students that have benefited from loans, if they do not pay them back, it stops the next wave of students from being able access funds. The cycle of education, empowerment and upliftment grinds to a hold and with it, so does the Spirit of Harambee.
Former students seem to have a hard time grasping the concept of the need to pay back their loans, and don’t see the long term damage they are inflicting. Being afforded the opportunity to study in Namibia is a great honour and with the student becoming the recipient of a study loan which they themselves requested, they have entered into a legally binding contract. For some reason though, many former students, who have gone onto fine and noble professional employment and receive a salary for their work don’t see the necessity in paying back their student loan.
We speak of wanting to do better for ourselves, our families and friends and dream and have aspirations, but if loans aren’t paid back, Harambee is simply being replaced with selfishness. A trait which we as a growing and emerging nation can ill-afford. Without the repaying of the loans other worthy students cannot receive loans or grants that they deserve. Often thereby closing off the avenue to tertiary education. This not only stunts the educational and academic development of the potential student, it also hampers the growth of Namibia. These potential students can’t pursue their academic dreams . Can’t contribute to the Namibian economy. Can’t help with the development of Namibia and definitely cannot assist in achieving the Harambee Prosperity Plan for Namibia. This will simply not do.
Nation building is something you do together and it starts with education. It saddens me to even have to bring up the subject of repayment. Our sense of decency, pride and even our sense of fair play and duty of what is right and what is wrong should compel us to want and need to repay our debt to society. Therefore I urge everyone to do what’s right and take steps to repay their student loans. Not because we ask, not because you are legally bound, but because you care for Namibia and its development. Embrace and live the Spirit of Harambee and watch yourself and your fellow Namibians prosper.