28 Feb 2018 19:00pm
WINDHOEK, 28 FEB (NAMPA) The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) is haunted by challenges arising from its previous regimes.
This was said by NSFAF Chief Executive Officer, Hilya Nghiwete in the funds latest annual report for the 2015/16 financial year.
The report was tabled in the National Assembly by Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Itah Kandjii-Murangi on Tuesday.
While various successes have been realised, several challenges - arising from the previous NSFAF regimes - continue to serve as impediments, stated Nghiwete.
These include establishing the true value of student loans awarded over the years, establishing a complete database of these loans and reconciling these amounts with the total amounts recorded.
In the midst of leadership squabbles and an impending re-incorporation into the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, NSFAFs challenges date back to 1997 when the fund was a directorate within ministry.
NSFAF operated as a division in the Ministry of Education until its establishment as a fund in 2013.
During this period, all records were paper-based, with manually recorded information.
This approach presented a myriad of challenges, namely incomplete information in files and missing contact details for past beneficiaries after they completed or abandoned their studies, the report states.
NSFAFs modus operandi at the time further presented a high level of ambiguity with regards to the nature of student contracts.
For example, it was not known whether funding was awarded as a loan or grant and whether it was repayable or not.
The impact of this paper-based system on present day recovery attempts has been significant, the report reveals.
Over the years, NSFAF has had to increase its efforts to trace past beneficiaries and establish the correct amount they owe.
However, the general unwillingness by beneficiaries even to accept repayment of loan has placed immense strain on the loan recovery challenge, according to the fund.
NSFAFs quest to recover funds has been further worsened by the fact that the recovery division is understaffed due to a lack of funds.
The report also said no serious recovery effort was deployed under the past regimes.
Serious efforts to trace beneficiaries and enforce repayment were not undertaken, resulting in many past beneficiaries escaping their responsibility to commence repayment, it notes.