NAM Students in Malaysia Complain of Hunger

OVER 100 Namibian students studying in Malaysia said they face hunger after the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund allegedly failed to deposit funds for their daily expenses on time.

The students, from different universities in Malaysia, said the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) was supposed to pay them at the end of July but payments were delayed due to unexplained reasons.

Although the students are currently on holiday until September, those affected are still in Malaysia and the NSFAF has the responsibility to pay for their expenses.

Enquiries by the students to NSFAF and the Ministry of Education have yielded no results, with the Minister of Education requesting the concerned students to draft a letter about their grievances.

“We have nothing to live on at the moment. We have to borrow money to survive. We don’t have toiletries or food and NSFAF has not given us a satisfactory response,” said one of the affected students who asked to remain anonymous.

According to the student, NSFAF has told them that the person responsible for the payments was not around.

“We are away from home, no family members to turn to and are struggling financially,” she said.

They also said NSFAF had requested the affected students to submit proof of payments and other documents to verify their identification before the money could be paid in, but nothing has been done despite the students producing the documents.

NSFAF provides each student with a N$4 000 stipend for their expenses quarterly. Their tuition fees, books and accommodation have been paid on time, but the stipends are yet to be paid.

This is not the first time students in Malaysia have accused NSFAF of starving them. Last year students complained about the living conditions at some universities, while others claimed they were forced to pay for basic necessities while going without food for days. The Fund has also come under fire in the past for allegedly forcing students who study abroad into prostitution and drug abuse because of not paying stipends on time, although it has disputed these allegations.

NSFAF’s deputy chief executive officer Stephanie van der Walt denied the Fund had delayed the payments and said that payments were made on 7 and 14 August respectively.

“It takes four to five days before the money is reflected in accounts. The money is paid through the Namibian embassy in Malaysia who then distribute it to the students,” she said.

Van der Walt said the money is expected to cover the months of August, September, October and November. Attempts to get a hold of the Ministry of Education’s spokesperson Johanna Absalom proved futile as her phone went unanswered.

Source : The Namibian