HIV, pregnancy tests required for Cuban scholarship

Tujoromajo Kasuto

The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) invites Namibians to compete for two fully funded scholarships for undergraduate studies in medical sciences offered by the Cuban government for 2023.

Some of the requirement for the scholarship are pregnancy and HIV testing.

Given the advanced technological era in which the world finds itself, these two requirements have raised eyebrows about why this is required for academic purposes.

Consequently, when quizzed about the impact of the results on the selection process, NSFAF Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kennedy Kandume stated that the conditions of the scholarship are set by Cuba, and there is not much room for debate because the opportunity is also offered to other countries.

Additionally, he emphasised that there are other scholarship opportunities available that do not have the same requirements.

‘’There are other options for students who are not HIV positive and expecting. If you do not meet these requirements, there are other opportunities that do not require HIV testing. For example, one cannot go to the offering government and say, ‘should not have this requirement’, because these scholarships are available not only to Namibia, but throughout Africa, and each country must nominate a number of young people to go get training and study there,’’ he explained.

He stated that the country cannot refuse to take advantage of these opportunities because they can simply take this to other countries with young people willing to be tested.

As a result, he said, Namibia does not only have young people living with HIV and those who can, should apply.

Kandume stated that the requirement for applicants not to be expectant mothers is a free voluntary opportunity where one lives at the expense of the Cuban government thus environmental conditions must be considered as they may not be favourable to their current state.

‘’It is possible that the environment where those people are going to study is not conducive for someone who is pregnant, in which case we cannot forgo the scholarship because those who are not pregnant can go instead of missing out on the scholarship. Remember, this is a scholarship, and they require someone who is not pregnant; as a country, we have no say in the matter, and it is a free scholarship,’’ he said.

Other eligibility criteria of the scholarship include being a Namibian citizen under the age of 25.

A full medical report, including HIV results, a certified copy of a school leaving certificate/Grade 12/AS, a certified copy of a passport or national ID card indicating citizenship, and a recent colour passport-size photograph are all required for admission.

Additionally, a detailed CV with names and contact information for referees is required, and the academic year begins in February 2023, with application submissions closing on September 30, 2022.

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