Wednesday, October 21, 2020

 Students warn against introducing school fees  

University of Botswana students have warned the newly appointed minister of tertiary education, research, science and technology Dr. Alfred Madigele that should the government introduce cost sharing measures he should brace himself for # FeesMusttFall protests.

#FeesMustFall is a student led protest movement that began in South Africa mid October 2015 in response to an increase in fees in that country.

The protests resulted in damage to property running into billions.

Student leaders across tertiary institutions this week warned that they would  embark on violent protests should the government implement what they described as draconian and pernicious decision.

Dikosha Dikosha of University of Botswana Student Representative Council (UBSRC) told this publication in an exclusive interview that should the government implement this punitive decision, they will agitate students and incite riots like Fees Must Fall Movement in neighboring South Africa in defense of education.

“Should this reckless decision be implemented by the government, we will rise up in clamorous demonstrations to repel and shun the policy in toto. Cost sharing is a gamble that only the rich and the elite can consider, not us, the SRC acting on behalf of the entire tertiary students and on their best interests will lead the greatest demonstration ever,” he said.

Dikosha added that  students will take it to streets.

“We will speak in very loud and a clear terms until our plea is taken seriously.”

Dikosha reiterated that education remains the only escape route from abject poverty that many Batswana are subjected to.

“Many students are from low income families which are wallowing in poverty and we do not need a rocket scientist to prove that they cannot afford to contribute a single penny to their children’s education,” Dikosha said.

He added that the country’s economy has not yet developed to a level where Batswana can afford to pay for their children’s education.

 Dikosha claimed that under the previous leadership before Dr. Madigele’s tenure, the tertiary education was under siege.

“I fear that Dr. Madigele might suffer the same fate as former education minister, Jacob Nkate who implemented unpopular cost sharing policy in secondary schools and suffered embarrassing defeat in 2009 polls.” he warned.  He insinuated that government was gradually disinvesting in education as evidenced by its decision to terminate external placement and implement quota system.

Chairperson of Botswana National Union of Students (BONUS), Moemedi Malesela shared the same sentiments insisting that the nation was not yet ready to embrace cost sharing initiative.

Malesela asserted that education was the only passport to the future and the nation’s shield therefore stakeholders must protect and preserve it more so that other sectors of the economy are dependent on it.

Meanwhile, Selibe Phikwe West legislator, Dithapelo Keorapetse will this week ask minister Madigele a series of questions in parliament regarding the state of tertiary education in the country. Some of the answers the legislator is demanding are; to know the number of learners currently sponsored by the government in each institution; tertiary education financing challenges experienced by the ministry and the impact of the quota system on tertiary education.

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