Several students, who returned from the Loudima Institute for Technical and Vocational Training (LITVT), earlier this year are disappointed with the way the Ministry of Higher Education is handling their situation. According to the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation 76 students have returned with only 11 remaining in Congo Brazzaville and it is up to the students to find enrolment at local institutions. Upon the return of the students, the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation allegedly asked those who were not willing to go back to Loudima to get themselves enrolled at any institution of their choice and promised to take care of the funding. But at the time the students returned, most institutions of higher learning had already closed registration. The ministry’s under-secretary, Dr Raimo Naanda, in response to emailed questions yesterday, said the ministry informed students who came from Loudima that they would be expected to return to Loudima as soon “as the situation at the centre has been rectified”. “Some students opted not to return to Loudima, and suggested that they would rather seek admission at local vocational training centres (VTCs). The ministry accepted the proposal and advised the students to inform the ministry once they have been admitted at local VTCs,” said Naanda.
However, he also indicated that students who opt not to return to Loudima would receive no special treatment when it comes to seeking funding for their studies. “They will be treated like any other students in the country,” he cautioned.
Namibia National Student Organisation (NANSO) has tried to negotiate with the ministry to ensure that these students are placed in VTCs countrywide but it seems that the students returned empty-handed with no academic record or testimonials. “It was a complete waste of their lives and they will have to start all over again,” stated Steven Kavetu, the vice president of NANSO. The ministry is reportedly reluctant to fund the students as promised. “They said that they are not going to fund anyone. Anyone who is accepted at any institution should go through the normal procedures of NSFAF,” added Kavetu. However, most of the students do not meet the NSFAF requirements.
Students have, however, expressed how helpless they are in this instance. “We do not have any progress report to give proof. The only thing we have as proof that we went to Loudima is the passport,” expressed one of the students. “The ministry should at least put a bit of effort in allocating schools for us because we have already wasted two years. We might apply at NSFAF but we might not get funded,” added one emotional student. Naanda responded to this saying: “Upon successful completion of their studies, students will be awarded a qualification commensurate with their level of studies completed. Such qualifications, should be evaluated by the Namibia Qualification Authority to equate it on the National Qualification Framework.” He added that: “Once such qualifications are evaluated, they could use them for application to further their studies at local institutions if they so wish,” he said. Another student who was previously enrolled at a certain institution had to withdraw his studies to go to Loudima. “When I came back I tried to enroll with the institution but I was not accepted. When I approached the ministry on this matter, they said that it is not their duty to get for me a school,” lamented the student.
Naanda said the ministry will continue to encourage students to continue with their training at Loudima considering that LITVT is aimed at equipping the students with vocational-related skills. There was no such discussion in the ministry to prepare a Cabinet submission on funding returnee Loudima students as stated by the students, said Naanda, adding that the ministry does not deal with student funding. It is important to underscore that it is the prerogative of students to apply for admission at any other institution of higher learning be it locally, regionally or internationally. Students will have to apply for study assistance from NSFAF provided that they meet the requirements to be considered to financial assistance. “Students should understand that there will be no special preference or treatment for them and they will be treated like any other student in the country,” the Deputy Permanent Secretary reiterated. The concerns raised by the students are currently being addressed at Loudima. “We expect the work to be completed by the end of June 2016 and once all these issues that they complained about have been addressed, we will have a meeting with them to establish whether they will return or not, said Naanda.
The students were supposed to be enrolled for a three-year senior secondary technical and vocational education and training (TVET) course, which would lead to an Advanced Level (A Level) qualification. Namibian students at the institute stopped attending classes earlier this year and insisted on returning home. Even the Namibian staff employed there opted to pack their bags fearing for their safety. Students complained that they did not receive their monthly allowances, water and electricity woes and lamented the poor learning environment at the institute saying they do not have textbooks and the library is not resourced. The situation was made worse when the Congolese police shot at the Namibians in an attempt to allegedly stop them from demonstrating and blocking the police from arresting a Namibian official who was accused of instigating the students to petition the institute’s management. In 2007, the governments of Namibia and the Republic of Congo signed an agreement for the creation of the technical and vocational training centre to cater for students from the two countries.