The ETSIP, Medium term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), and other analyses have indicated that, in its current form, Namibia’s education sector is not financially sustainable. A key priority of ETSIP Phase I is the reform of the tertiary finance system to increase distribution and access while ensuring greater cost recovery. As noted in a World Bank Sector Study4, “public spending on tertiary education is distinctly pro-rich. Students from the richest 20 percent of the households share nearly 60% of public subsidies.” Compounding the distributional inequities, approximately 80% of the total cost of tertiary education is directly funded through annual appropriations from GRN to institutions.
In order to support financially disadvantaged students who are unable to meet fees and other related costs, the MoE administers the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), which provides primarily loans and a limited number of bursaries (scholarships) to students who provide proof of acceptance at a tertiary institution or VTC and evidence of financial disadvantage. GRN has indicated its intention to decrease the number of bursaries and the World Bank Sector Study (which provides the basis for ETSIP) notes that, “the government’s initiative to transform the previous bursary scheme into a loan scheme is a step in the right direction.”
NSFAF receives about 15,000 applications a year, of which it is able to support about 3,000, suggesting that about 12,000 financially disadvantaged students per year are unable to receive assistance in pursuing further education. There has not been a systematic verification of the needs and characteristic of students supported under the current assistance fund arrangement.
With support of UNDP, GRN has developed a draft NSFAF re-engineering plan. NSFAF is also exploring options for coordinating loan collection with the Social Security Commission and the direct deduction of loan repayments from salaries of public employees. MoE undertook a benchmarking effort in relation to Botswana, South Africa and some other countries in relation to allocation practices, recovery and costs of administration. The finding of such effort will be vital to the future of NSFAF and tertiary education financing.
Some studies and effort can be useful source of information to this Activity:
(i) Teacher Education Reform Programme Study, commissioned by the Council for Higher Education (NCHE) and the Advisory Council on Teacher Education (ACTED);
(ii) A study on funding formula for higher education to be commissioned by the NCHE; and
(iii) MoE Report from the 2008 study of South Africa and Botswana experiences on tertiary finance.
The MCA Namibia Programme provides for technical assistance to MoE to fast-track the NSFAF re-engineering. A comprehensive analysis of various aspects of the scheme will encompass
(i) A supply-side forecast analysis of graduates across the regions and by economic status;
(ii) A demand-side labour market analysis of projected needs for trained workers at the technical, professional and managerial levels across high priority sectors;
(iii) An analysis of colleges and universities outside of Namibia across Africa and Asia that offer high quality and affordable programmes that meet forecasted labour market needs;
(iv) An analysis of different options practiced globally that meet a pro-poor scholarship/loan programme;
(v) Projected redesign options to support a redesigned and consolidated tertiary financial assistance programme;
(vi) A capacity analysis and plan to build capacity for implementing an efficient and effective programme; and
(vii) Review and design of a public awareness campaign to increase availability of resources and add value to a new GRN programme.
The final outcome of these studies will inform a designed strategy and implementation plan for a tertiary financial assistance scheme, including, as needed, new regulations, policies, procedures and guidelines for implementation of the new strategy.