Students at Namibia College of Open Learning (Namcol) in Otjiwarongo were barred from attending classes on Monday after failing to pay for pocket WIFI devices.
The students were allegedly sent home after management decided to suspend their attendance if they did not pay for the devices. Namcol Director, Heroldt Murangi, stated that it was unfair to allow some students to pay while others did not simply because they were running to the media. “We then after decided to take a decision that we would inform the students that they will be suspended from the classes until they pay what they owe the institution, so they can get their devices. It’s not fair that we allow some students to pay and some not because they are running to the media. Students will always complain and if we keep on listening to students, we will never move forward in terms of implementation of eLearning or to provide additional support to students and learners,” he said.
The pocket, which the institution purchased from Telecom Namibia for N$ 1.4 million, cost N$ 690 for 12 months, which is equivalent to N$ 57 per month for unlimited internet access. “We acquired devices for 6000 students and it cost the institution about N$ 1. 4 million and we are not making a single profit because we have paid everything, we have received over to Telecom to provide them to us,” he said Murangi added that the institution decided last year, with the assistance of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, to develop online content, and because students were complaining about internet connectivity, they launched the Wi-Fi pocket devices. “With Covid, we have learned so many lessons and it’s not always possible to get every learner to class, that is why entered into a prayer with the ministry to develop online content. And because learners were complaining about internet connectivity, we thought the best way was to get Wi-Fi devices to students and we it was best to start with the smallest gro
up of our students of the tertiary programme,” Murangi said. He further said the students were supposed to pay for the devices during their enrolment period however some requested to pay for them installment of which they failed to and that they actually owe the institution money because it was an institutional decision.
However, Dina Haufiku, Namcol’s Central Region Manager, said before sending the students home, she tried to come up with initiatives to raise money for the students. The sending home of learners was discussed by management, and also through the executive management meetings, which Namcol are not part of. “Before sending them home I tried to workout something with my learners and I came up with some initiatives so that we could get money to pay for the devices instead of going to the parents,” she said Furthermore, she said it was not only Otjiwarongo that sent students home but Windhoek too.