Medical students want allowance delays resolved
12 June 2020 | Health
The health ministry this week confirmed nearly all of the Namibian medical
scholarship students studying in Zambia have received their allowances
following complaints of a more than a two-month delay in payments that left
them stranded without funds amidst the global Covid-19 pandemic.
A student studying in Zambia on a health ministry scholarship said while most of
the 70 students had been paid by this week, the repeated late payments are
frustrating and need to be addressed urgently.
The student who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that while the students
are hard at work readying for their upcoming exams, they are also working
towards finding solutions. For many, their allowances are their only financial
source of security, he emphasised.
“We have started to receive our stipends, but there are still a few who have not
received. Right now, we are [hoping] that our next allowance in July comes with
no delay because we have loans to pay back.”
The student added: “We are tired of the money coming late because it puts us in
unfortunate positions. By the time the next allowance should come, they will
have new excuses. Why can they not develop a better system that will allow us to
receive the money on time? This is the real question.”
According to the students, they received their last allowance in February, for
February and March.
They say that by late May, most of the students had not received their allowance
payments for April, May and June, which left many in dire straits for nearly two
months before the next allowance payments began trickling in.
At the time the student described the situation as “borderline inhumane”,
stressing that in addition to lack of funding for basic necessities and study
materials, the Covid-19 pandemic had worsened their situation while stranded
far from home and their loved ones.
The ministry this week denied there was a chronic payment problem.
Health ministry acting director of the human resource development department
Joyce Shatilwe said, “The ministry is not facing any challenge” when asked about
multiple reports of late stipend payments from scholarship students in Zambia
Shatilwe said the ministry “informed students that their allowance payments
would be done on a quarterly basis. Each quarter is three months. Currently, the
payment for April to June is in progress, so the next payment will be for July to
September, so they will receive payment during that period,” the ministry official
She added that by Monday this week, 95% of the Zambian students had received
their allowances for April to June 2020 this year.
Another challenge the students highlighted in recent weeks is a lack of
communication and assistance from the ministry when they request information
on late payments.
“As for communication, there has been none for more than a month,” the student
said this week.
However, Shatilwe said the ministry is in regular contact with students, and that
the High Commission of Namibia in Zambia also supports the students.
Around 400 Namibian medical undergraduates study on health ministry
scholarships around the world.
Medical students living in Russia echoed the complaints of the Zambian students
in February and May this year in media reports on late allowance payments.