The revolutionary students’ organization built on sacrifices, tears and sweat of those who led it before us with a leftist ideology aimed at seeking social justice for students and quality education. Indeed today the guiding principles of this Organization remain at the core, of this mass based Students Union. We are joined by the heads of student leaders from institutions of higher learning to reaffirm that our fight will remain genuine to the benefit of the Namibian child. NANSO remains at the forefront of advocating and seeking solutions to issues affecting students and learners, we applaud all revolutionary young and old Namibians who are part of this fight.
1. SRC FORUM
On Saturday 16 September, NANSO hosted its annual SRCs from institutions of higher learning (IUM, UNAM, NUST, College of Arts and Institute of Bankers) at its annual SRC forum, and has resolved the following.
1.1 Accommodation and Internship
The SRC forum made its second and final call (previous request was made in 2015), on Government and its Agencies (Ministry of Higher Education and the Namibian Students Financial Assistance Fund), to note NANSO’s resolution 10 that seeks to address the high rentals students pay and construct a student village. We fail to understand how student accommodation is such a low priority for decision-makers and for institutions like NSFAF. It just does not make any sense that NSFAF in their reviews came up with mechanisms to increase funds for students to rent but no mention of support for a student village.
We herewith inform students that NANSO has identified unique areas on three of our main institutions of higher learning to construct shacks come March 2017. The SRC Forum therefore resolved that should institutions fail to show cause in terms of their efforts to provide adequate accommodation for students, students will erect sharks around campuses as temporary accommodation.
The SRC Forum further requested the government (Ministry of Higher Education) to draft the apprenticeship policy and fast-track the implementation thereof. The NANSO Khomas Regional Leadership has started a campaign of graduates on the street and if our call to unfreeze government recruitments falls on deaf ears again within the next two months, NANSO will call for a national campaign of graduates on the streets. We are reliably informed that there are committees established under the Prime Minister’s office to deal with issues of graduates and internships but the status quo indicates that the committees are dragging their feet in addressing these issues.
1.2 Fees for 2017
As we continue to live in a country that clusters us per the size of our pockets, those with a favourable relation to the means of production dictate the agenda to the rest of society. Whilst remaining oppressive and exploitative, the world we live in is also full of corruption and greed, further perpetuating a cycle where the rich becomes richer whilst the poor are blackmailed to endless poverty by graduating into debts. NANSO therefore remains firm in supporting the President’s call that students shouldn’t graduate into debts. NANSO herewith reiterates its position that all NSFAF loans should be transformed into grants. Indeed this remains our call until Free Tertiary Education is achieved.
We further advise the student populace in the country not to adhere to any calls for the repayment of NSFAF loans. The student populace as a section of the working class, in classical Marxist terms as it pertains to ownership and control of property, tends to be a casualty of the capitalist interests. In spite of capitalist apologist assertions that seek to convince us that there is no alternative to a greed-driven and malice-infested system of capitalism, NANSO, as a sober Marxist-Leninist student movement, believes otherwise, as this country has abundant resources to fund not only education for the poor, but for all citizens. How do we intend to deliver the poor to the Promised Land while the most suitable option (tertiary education) puts them into debts? Students can simply not afford the repayment of loans they took under desperate circumstances and herewith request the state to write off all debts owed in line with the bailing out of parastatals.
It is based on this very correct analysis that as institutions discuss with their councils fees increment for the academic year 2017, they must keep in mind that any suggested fees increment for 2017 will not be entertained. The SRC forum made it categorically clear that all institutions will stand on the conviction that no fee increment will be accepted for the academic year 2017. We further remain firm that registration fees will fall in 2017. NANSO’s resolution 16 states that tertiary education should be accessible to all students and failure to adhere to free registration for 2017, the SRC forum resolved that there will be a national #VarsityLockDown inclusive of secondary schools in solidarity.
Allow me to reassure you that poverty is continued when Namibia declares education a right but stands reluctant to declare free tertiary education for all. Free education must be viewed not only as an initiative wherein every child attends school without making any financial payments but as the road towards poverty eradication.
In the spirit of Harambee, we call upon institutions to allow all students to write exams even if they have outstanding fees. The SRC forum resolved not to turn a blind eye to the administrative costs of the institutions and thus resolved that all institutions (private and public) should allow all students to write exams and withhold their results till payment is made if necessary.
2. Teacher’s strike
NANSO herewith sends its solidarity message to all teachers in Namibia following their vote to take industrial action in support of their pay claim. This sends a message to our government that you cannot go on accepting poverty increments. Members of NANTU and TUN will be out on strike, and we expect that the industrial action will bring the government back to the negotiating table with an improved offer of at least above the inflation rate.
We consider your fight (teachers) for a decent pay and conditions as a fight at the heart of fighting against the corrupt neo-liberal elite who are everywhere enriching themselves at the expense of the vast majority. Teachers have been for long paid very little. This ugly situation persisted until the teaching profession became the laughing stock of everyone. It is therefore our considered opinion that government needs to go further than increasing the teachers’ salaries – the state needs to review the salary scale of teachers to attract the brightest students to join the teaching profession. The teaching profession has generally lost its impact, respect and authority in the community and the country at large.
We understand the consequences of the teachers’ strike on the learners, as there are those who will soon be writing exams while others have started. NANSO will not tolerate any uniformed external professionals such as police officers or soldiers to preside over the national examinations. The organization will close down schools should that be considered. It is our considered opinion based on our analysis of the Minister of Basic Education’s response to the teachers’ demands that government has not been negotiating in good faith. Government used so much energy on preparing for the strike rather than avoiding it.
In light of the above, we cement NANTU’s call that we have lost confidence in the Minister of Basic Education and herewith request the appointing authority to reconsider her position.
Considering the fact that exams have already started, we herewith plea to the government to postpone the exam dates for two weeks in order to resolve the dispute with the teachers. We herewith extend a message of encouragement to all our grade 10 and 12 learners, that the exams that some of you have already started with might be the most important exercise in your life. The NANSO leadership urges you to study hard, and be focused on the exams.
We congratulate the teachers for their tremendous contribution to the grade 10 and 12 learners.
3.Fees Must Fall Movement
NANSO as a member of the Southern African Students Union (SASU), with the guiding principles of Marxism, hereby send our solidarity message to the South African students and to SASCO leadership that we are with you in this great fight for quality free tertiary education. We should collectively reject the commodification of education.
Comrades, you have successfully championed this course in 2015, and 2016 will not be any different. The victimization of students should be rejected and the leadership should be intact with Marxist principles.
AMANDLA, the spirit of Thomas Sankara must guide the students and its revolutionary morality.
NANSO will remain vigilant and ready to fight the injustices done to our members throughout the country. The membership is advised to read, and read to enhance knowledge and reject the commodification of education and the neo-liberal syndrome in the society. We as students and learners are an important element of society, hence we will continue to champion issues affecting us and the community.
• Dimbulukeni Shipandeni Hafenih Nauyoma is the secretary general of the Namibian National Students Organisation (NANSO) and an activist of Affirmative Repositioning Movement.