Helena Johannes

Nearly 70 companies have applied for a tender to provide students with laptops valued at N$6,000 per unit, Namibia Students Financial Aid Fund (NSFAF) acting CEO Kennedy Kandume announced on Thursday.

The Ministry of Higher Education according to fund, will pay 50 percent of the total amount for each laptop while students will be required to pay the other 50 percent which is equivalent to N$3000.

“NSFAF received 69 applications to carry on the tender of student laptops. The laptop will come with a 10GB connectivity device which costs N$690,” Kandume said.

He added that students will also be required to pay 50 percent of the cost of that device which is equivalent to N$345, while the ministry will cover the other 50 percent. “In totality, students will contribute N$3,345 to benefit from this initiative. The rest will be covered by the government,” he said.

The move is a U-turn after the fund had earlier announced the initiative as compulsory for every NSFAF beneficiary.

Kandume however said both privately funded and NSFAF beneficiaries who are interested in this initiative can benefit.

“It is by choice. Only those who indicate that they are in need of the laptops and the connectivity device will benefit from this initiative,” Kandume said.

He also added that those who did not opt for the initiative will be given their full non-tuition fees.

The NSFAF boss said an evidence-based approach was adopted whereby National Council for High Education (NCHE) was tasked to conduct a needs analysis with the higher education Institutions (HEIs) on online teaching and learning.

“The findings were that many students do not have access to learning materials and ICT infrastructure at high institutions cannot cope with the volume of courses and supporting materials to be uploaded,” he said.

He added that students studying in other countries are eligible for an amount of US$250 from NSFAF.

This comes as the leader of Student Union of Namibia (SUN) last week said they will not support the student laptops initiative if it decreases students’ tuition fees.

Last week the SUN leader urged NSFAF to publicly make the initiative understandable to students as many students were left in fear of having their non-tuition fees deducted.