By Kelvin Chiringa
The Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO) this week gave the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre (WVTC) until Wednesday the 19th of June to explain to them the day-to-day challenges facing the entity’s trainees, failure of which the students’ body will drag it to court.
According to NANSO Secretary General, Pendapala Taapopi, the NANSO executive committee received a letter in which trainees at WVTC highlighted major concerns that were impeding their learning at the institution.
WVTC failed to respond to the students’ body’s letter of demands by the time the deadline lapsed, which will likely see it approaching court.
Among a plethora of issues, the students highlighted that the tuition fees at WVTC were exhorbitant as well as that they did not sit for any examination session in their second year as per the appropriate curriculum.
They also claimed that they did not receive their hardware and software certificate which, according to them, was a direct violation of an agreement between them and WVTC.
Said Taapopi, “We, together with the trainees, are of the opinion that the WVTC’s conduct towards student issues falls below the standard of quality education. In light of the above, we demand that the management of the WVTC writes a comprehensive explanation on the above issues, and how it plans on addressing them.
“Failure to do so on or before 17h00 on 19th of June 2019, we hold instruction from our constituents to approach the High court of Namibia on an urgent basis to seek relief.”
The students have also claimed that final year trainees did not receive their statements of results for examinations which they wrote through the ITT six months ago.
“The school deducted funds from the trainees’ accounts for materials which they have not received and the school has not advanced the due funds to the trainees for the last three years,” the students have also aired.
Another major concern is that the students do not have access to their proof of registration and financial records and that they could not use their balance owed to them by WVTC to register for the second semester.
Taapopi said this will not be the first time that these alleged inconsistences are surfacing at the institution, as they have been playing out for the past three years.
“There is an issue of students who can’t register but those students have been paid for already by NSFAF and are not refunded.
One of the things we are saying is that we are going to ask the court to compel WVTC to refund these students because they have been funded for they have not sat for any examination.
But also if you have students who want to register and have balance accrued to them by the institution, the institution does not want to refund them or use that balance to register. We also want another court order that compels the institution to allow the students to register,” he said.
Taapopi said they are looking forward to a response that makes the institution commit to resolving the student issues.
“They must indicate when, how but even if they are going to respond we want to get into an agreement with them which must be legally binding.
The students have been complaining for three years now. If they do not respond positively then we do not have an option because the students are suffering,” he said.
NANSO is also coming out of a recent national shut down demonstration where they compelled government to avail funds to 12 000 first year students which NSFAF said could not be catered for.
This was after they had met the President and briefed him on the students’ challenges.
The Prime Minister also called for a crisis meeting to chart the way forward as far as student funding is concerned.
These latest developments in the heat of the 2019 election year have been interpreted by analysts as symptomatic of an ailing economy, which have all come in time to exert pressure on President Hage Geingob.
The budget cuts which have typified treasury’s austerity policy began causing discomfort at WVTC as far back as 2017 where Principal Paulus Haukongo said his institution was forced to take 1 000 students annually alone as opposed to its goal of 6 000.
“We are having the Harambee concept, that nobody should feel left out and at WVTC the annual number of intake is close to 6 000 while 2 000 students are allowed per every intake. Now we have to limit ourselves to just 1 000,” he was quoted as saying.