10 Sep 2013 08:30
OPUWO, 10 SEP (NAMPA) - The functions of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) will be decentralised to all regions this year.
This was announced by a delegation from the NSFAF, who visited the Kunene Region last week to inform the Chief Regional Officer of the Kunene Regional Council, George Kamseb, about the progress made in this regard.
Kamseb welcomed the idea in an interview with Nampa on Tuesday, as he said this will create opportunities for students in the Kunene Region to have increased access to the fund as not many are aware of its existence at present.
Currently, the Kunene Region is using less than one per cent of the funds allocated to the students in the region, said Kamseb.
Of the 293 learners who completed Grade 12 in the Kunene Region last year, only nine students obtained the 25 points in five subjects required for university admission, and not all applied for funding either.
The decentralisation process is at an advanced stage as the recruitment of the officials to be deployed to the regions has already been completed.
This includes 14 regional loan clerks and 14 regional scholarship officers, who are currently undergoing training in Windhoek.
These NSFAF officials are expected to be deployed to the regions during this month.
The fund has a vital role to play in taking students financial services closer to those who need it, and the appointment of the regional officers is aimed at assisting the funds stakeholders, particularly students and parents, to engage it on various issues.
Equally important is the fact that the decentralisation process will give the regions a voice when it comes to the selection of NSFAF beneficiaries in terms of economic sectors which are identified as being of importance to the region.
It is thus hoped that the exercise will help the fund to reach out to needy students in the regions who meet NSFAF requirements, but who would otherwise not have had the opportunity and means to apply for funding.
Decentralisation will also allow the regions to have inputs in the affairs of the fund, while the fund in turn will gain a better understanding of each regions circumstances.
According to Kamseb, once the funds are available at regional level, the Regional Council will establish the criteria and allocate funds to students who are planning on studying in fields which are strategically beneficial to the economic advancement of the Kunene Region.
Here, he mentioned fields such as tourism, welding and bricklaying as being very crucial for the region as the students can after graduation create employment.
According to NSFAF statistics, the Kunene Region benefits the least from the fund.
Currently, 51 Kunene youngsters are studying with the support of the NSFAF, some of whom were awarded bursaries before this year.
The region which benefits the most is the Omusati Region, with 1 682 students from that region benefiting from the fund.