We are Namibian students in the Republic of Cuba and we were supposed to get our stipend at the end of April, but we are now in June, without any payment. It has become a habit for the Ministry of Education to send our money late every year, sometimes even in August. We have been complaining about this for more than five years, but there is no change. Last time when we had a meeting with people from the Ministry of Education they promised that we will at least get our money on time, because they found an easy way to send money to Cuba, but this never happened. It has been two years now and each year we are facing the same shit.
Why does the Ministry of Education pay the students in China and Russia on time, while we in Cuba are the last ones? From our knowledge the Namibian students in Russia and China got their stipend a long time ago. We are studying in a country under economic blockade and they know the Cuban rules well, when it comes to foreign residence here.
We don’t have another source of income here other than the 100 Cuban pesos per month, equivalent to US$4 from the Cuban government, which you can spend buying four rolls of toilet paper. We don’t think the Ministry of Education expects us to survive on this amount. So far we tried to keep our country’s flag flying high, by studying hard and being good ambassadors, but the delay in our stipend is obliging us to do something that never crossed our minds, such as joining the sex work industry, which is the only source of income we have, even though it is illegal, because we have no option left.
We are more than 100 Namibian students in different fields of study, but some of the medicine students are getting 25% more than others. We, the medicine students, live better than the other students and we have no idea on what basis the Ministry of Education evaluates. We need the Deputy Minister to tell us what makes the medicine students so special? Or is this a sign to tell us that Namibia does not need engineers, pharmacologists, biologists, sports physician, agronomists and veterinarians?
The Deputy Minister should give us feedback on this and not just attack teachers in Namibia for nothing. He should start with the Namibian Students’ Fund Association. It is corrupt and its director does not show that she is qualified for that position, because she doesn’t have manners and is not willing to help students. The Namibian Students’ Fund Association can take an example from Ms. Natalie Goagoseb (currently Education Director of Omaheke region) and Ms. Elizabeth Beukes. When they were in NASFAS, they attended to our problems and gave us updates on our stipend situations, but the current NASFAS staff members tell us that we in Cuba are misbehaving by writing to the media complaining of delays in our stipend payment.
We have been waiting for two months, but there is no answer. What are we supposed to do
David H. Ndeutala
University of Santiago de Cuba