Namibia’s link to Loudima severed for now

02 March 2021 | Education

Windhoek • [email protected]

Namibia has financially withdrawn from its support of the beleaguered Loudima Institute for Technical and Vocational Training partnership in the Congo and the bilateral project is currently under review.
In the meantime, the Namibian government has halted all funding for the centre after an exodus of Namibian staff and students.
“Since there are no Namibians at the centre, the ministry is not contributing to the operational expenses of the centre,” executive director of the ministry of higher education Dr Alfred van Kent confirmed.
On Monday he said the Namibian and Congolese governments “are reviewing the agreement which forms part of the bilateral arrangements between the two states” and once the discussions are concluded, the way ahead on Namibia’s involvement will be made clear.
The higher education ministry confirmed on Monday that most of the staff had returned to Namibia in 2017, moreover that the Namibian school principal returned last year due to medical reasons.
The staff who are back in the country continue to receive their salaries. “They are not on leave. The Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation has placed many of them in various ministries, while the remaining few are being absorbed in the ministry,” Van Kent said.
He added that the cost of the monthly salaries being paid to the former Loudima staff in Namibia cannot be made public. “Staff raised concerns which they brought to the attention of the Congolese minister and Namibian minister responsible for TVET,” Van Kent said.
Among the issues the ministry is aware of, were the conditions of staff accommodation, language struggles in a predominantly French country, “medication, water, internet, transport etc.,” he said.
It remains unclear when Namibia withdrew funding to the centre which was inaugurated in 2014 as part of an agreement between the two countries.
Broken dreams
The ministry confirmed that since 2016, 100 Namibians had been enrolled at the centre, “with many having returned without having completed their studies for various reasons. So far, 20 students have graduated from the centre”.
The revival of Loudima, which once trained exiled Namibians during the pre-independence war, was first raised in 2007 by President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. In 2014, said president and his Namibian counterpart President Hifikepunye Pohamba, inaugurated the centre with great fanfare, with the renovated centre hailed as a state-of-the-art institute that would mould Namibians with national and international qualifications.
Since the first intake of students however, the training centre has been plagued by multiple reports linked to allowance and salary troubles, and “unbearable academic and living conditions”.
Van Kent challenged views that the centre has been woefully mismanaged and that millions of Namibian dollars of funding have been poured in with little to show for it. “It is not true. There has been no mismanagement at the centre.”