Poly Students in Fees Protest

OVER 60 students at the Polytechnic of Namibia protested against the increase in registration fees at the Windhoek campus yesterday.

The institution has increased its registration fees from N$3 000 to N$3 500 for the 2015 academic year, citing a budget deficit.

The 16% increase means that each student will have to fork out N$14 000 for both semesters, while hostel students will have to pay N$7 000 compared to the N$6 000 they paid last year.

Carrying posters with gly worded messages, the students handed over a petition to the institution’s director for communication and marketing, Kaitira Kandjii, who received it on behalf of the rector Tjama Tjivikua.

“Reduce registration fees, otherwise we won’t register,” reads one poster, while in the petition, the students demanded a 50% reduction in fees.

Student representative for academic affairs Samuel Ndangula, who organised the protest, said the increase places an unfair burden on the students, which they should not have to bear.

“Moreover, the burden is even heavier because of the two-part registration custom at the poly. We do not think it is fair to constantly make the students absorb the deficit by charging them more. Students should not be held accountable for management and government complacency. The Polytechnic is an academic institution, not a business,” he argued.

Ndangula also said they would only compromise if the institution agrees to leave the current fees as they are.

“The payment should be made only once at the beginning of the year as opposed to subjecting students to double payment,” he said. Tjivikua, who is still on leave, told The Namibian yesterday that due to the high cost of living, including water and electricity rates, the institution has to adjust its costs accordingly.

“To say that our fees are exorbitant is not right because we arrived at the current fees after doing a comparison with other educational institutions, not only locally but regionally with institutions from Botswana and South Africa. The fees are the same everywhere,” he said.

Tjivikua also said since no funding exists, they cannot predict how much it will receive from government next month.

“Education is not a free good. It is a free good at basic education level but not at the higher level,” he argued.

Tjivikua also said the Student Representative Council was part of the decision to increase the fees.

He said the timing of the protest was not right as most of the Poly’s staff, including the finance department and the board members, were still on leave. “We will issue a formal response soon,” he said.

Ndangula also said that the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), which is supposed to cushion students from financial hardships, has not been forthcoming, leaving many students high and dry due to late loan payments and revoking loans when students fail a single subject.

The student representative council is expected to meet with members of the NSFAF to negotiate funding on behalf of students tomorrow. Registration for the 2015 academic year at the institution kicked off yesterday.

Source : The Namibian