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Marginalised students face financial struggles due to bursary delays

Written by on May 17, 2024

Sixty-three students from marginalised communities have been struggling to make ends meet after The Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare failed to pay their monthly allowances of N$4 500, as well as tuition fees to various universities across the country.

The first quarterly payment was to be processed in the first week of April, covering the months of February, March and April, with an amount of N$1 500 each month, however, the ministry has not made any payments, nor communicated with the students.

Currently, the ministry has 240 students registered at various institutions of higher learning, benefiting from the bursary scheme under the Division of Marginalised Communities.

When the ministry’s executive director, Martha Mbambo, was contacted for comment, she said the queries will be responded to next week Monday in a press release.

In the meantime, students are still struggling to make ends meet due to the financial challenges caused by the delay.
Some of the students that recently spoke to The Namibian on condition of anonymity due to fear of victimisation, said the last allowances they received were on 1 December, however, the payment date was supposed to be 1 November 2023.

The students have written letters to the ministry where they raised concerns and expressed their disappointment about the delayed payments.

One of the letters is dated 8 May 2023, while the other is dated 8 May 2024.

“We are students that are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds, most of us do not have relatives that will help us out with financial needs, hence the reason why we applied for this bursary opportunity,” one of the letters read.

The students question how they are expected to concentrate if they are living in difficult conditions and going to classes on empty stomachs.

One of the students in her final year at the University of Namibia (Unam), and who has been funded by the bursary since 2022, says the payments, for both allowances and tuition fees, have always been delayed.

“We have been deprived of the allowances for over six weeks, which is an inconvenience for us. As for the tuition fees, they are never paid in full. These allowances are essential in covering our basic needs such as food, toiletries, transportation and other additional expenses,” says the student.

She says some of their qualifications have been withheld by the university due to the debts the students are in.

Another Unam student pursuing a bachelor’s degree says the late disbursement of these funds has caused them anxiety and stress, which is affecting their academic life.

“The delay in payments has caused significant financial hardships. I had to resort to borrowing money from people and asking for food with the promise of paying them back once the allowances have been received,” the student says.

The delay in payments has caused some of the students to go back home to sell goats to gather funds for food, which has significantly disrupted their education and affected their well-being.

“Everytime we go to the office to seek answers, we are met with rude responses, while we are already failing due to the late disbursement of funds,” the student says.

The student says his tuition fees are currently N$30 500 in arrears.

Another student from the Namibia University of Science and Technology, pursuing a qualification in tourism, says she is unable to afford a black and white uniform, resulting in her missing classes.

“We are not allowed to attend certain lectures without that uniform, but our monthly allowances have been delayed without any communication,” the student says.

She urges the ministry to process their monthly allowances in order for them to be able to fully concentrate on their education, without facing unnecessary barriers.

“It is very hard to concentrate in class or complete assignments on an empty stomach. I have tried to get loans from various loan sharks, which are constantly calling me for their money,” she says

The student has taken on a part-time job as a retailer to be able to make ends meet.

“This is negatively affecting my studies as I have to split my time between the two responsibilities, even though I am a full-time student,” she says.

She says the ministry has not paid her tuition fees for the last two years, since she received the award letter.

Another issue the students have raised is that there is no contract between themselves and the ministry, apart from an award letter that is not specific about the amounts dedicated to each student, which has made it difficult for the ministry to be held accountable.

According to the ministry’s 2023/2024 budget motivation, 240 students from marginalised communities are registered at various institutions of higher learning and are being assisted with the full payment of tuition and accommodation fees, as well as receiving monthly allowances.

The ministry requested that N$82 724 be allocated to implementing programmes and projects for marginalised communities.

The post Marginalised students face financial struggles due to bursary delays appeared first on The Namibian.

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