By Maria Kandjungu
FIRST Lady Monica Geingos held a reception and award ceremony last week in honour of learners participating in the Talented Individual Programme (TIP), an initiative by her office that aims to assist learners from low income households who perform exceptionally well in their studies to complete their high school on a full scholarship.
Started in 2016, the programme had its first intake of 28 Grade 8 learners, who were awarded full scholarships to complete their high school at three of Namibia’s best performing schools (Windhoek Gymnasium, Windhoek High School and St Boniface High).
Calling the scholarship “a fellowship”, Geingos emphasized that they do not only focus monetary support but all other support that the children need to thrive in an academic environment, as money alone or education alone are not enough,. “We say it’s the equalizer but its more than that.”
Throwing money at the problem is “not enough if there is no additional support,” she noted, pointing out that 50 percent of scholarships awarded by the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) do not result in qualifications. “This means half of scholarship beneficiaries do not get their qualification.”
The TIP scholarship package offers fully paid school fees, sport fees and medical aid, as well as physical and psychological help by providing the learners with access to social workers and psychologists. They also get pocket money and all the assistance they may need to excel in their studies.
Among many other sponsors to the programme is President Hage Geingob, with N$10,000 per year, Khomas Medical Center the in form of medical services to learners and Prosperity Health which covers hospitalisation bills for the learners.
‘Thank you for the life changing experience’ were the words of Julia Wilhelm, one of the first intakes of the programme during a reception in their honour.
According to Julia, the 28 learners are testimony to the change one good heart can bring in the lives of many. She said the opportunity by the First Lady allowed them to work towards their full potential and gave them a chance to become important individuals in society.
Also thanking the First Lady for coming to his rescue and helping him secure financial assistance when he was unable to register at university due to financial difficulty, Ewan Orlam said although he believes the world does not owe anyone anything, the best feeling is knowing that someone out there cares.
“It gives peace of mind knowing that your studies have been (financially) covered as NSFAF is unreliable,” Orlam stated.
French Ambassador to Namibia Claire Bodonyi and United States of America Ambassador Lisa Jonson were among other high-profile stakeholders at the event.