Ministry Leaves Nursing Students in Debt

Over 47 nursing students, who are due to graduate under the training of the Ministry of Health and Social Services National Health Training Centre (NHTC), are neck-deep in debt after the ministry failed to pay their loans.

The second-year students, who have only one month left before their graduation, say the ministry has repeatedly failed to pay out the funds since last year in January through the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), forcing them to beg for food and borrow thousands of dollars to cover for rent, transport and other basic necessities. The funds from NSFAF are for stationery, tuition fees, textbooks, meals, accommodation and practical attachments.

Some students told The Namibian that their debts have ballooned to more than N$5 000 with no way of repaying them.

“A contract was signed in 2012 where the ministry agreed to pay for our living expenses for two consecutive years through a loan we applied for. We were supposed to get the second year loan last year after our examinations according to the school’s finance department and after waiting nothing has happened,” one of the students, who preferred anonymity, lamented. “Last year in November, we enquired about the payments once more and were informed that our names were not on the list of eligible recipients of funds from NSFAF but that the school’s finance department was rectifying this error,” the student said.

The students are now demanding that NHTC’s chief control officer Corrie Kisting explain the reason for the delay. Kisting had allegedly informed the students that he had “misplaced” the list of their names and could not make the payment without the list, an excuse he has been giving them since last year. Students are also agitated by the fact that although Kisting has told them that the money has now been paid in on 24 March this year and the list of their names was found, the payment is yet to be deposited into their accounts.

Approached for comment, the ministry of health’s spokesperson, Ester Paulus, said the ministry, through the training centers, only provides assistance to students through facilitating the application process by providing guidance during the completion of the loan application forms, collecting required documents and drawing up a list of students applying for the study loan for second and first years to be submitted to NSFAF.

She, however, admitted that in September 2013, after receiving confirmation of payment from NSFAF for study loans for beneficiaries at all the training centres, the ministry realised that the NHTC second-year students have been omitted from the payment process.

“Due to the long process involved in transferring of funds into the required accounts, the ministry is still waiting for the funds to appear in our account before students are given refunds. The ministry can and will only commence refunds to students once the respective account code within the ministry is credited with the long awaited funds for the beneficiaries,” she said.

NSFAF’s spokesperson Percy Tjihero confirmed that the fund made two separate payments – one last year and again this year. “These are students based in Windhoek – for one or the other reason their details were not part of the first request for us to effect payment. It is now up to the Ministry of Health to allocate these funds to students – this is out of our control,” he said.

Source : The Namibian