The government is currently facing accusations of curtailing the development of tertiary education in favour of the president’s newly-found project, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS).
The accusations, leveled at the government by the leader of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP), Gilson Saleshando, say that the government has targeted a weak and vulnerable constituency for its cost-cutting measures.
The allegations come only a few weeks after the government announced that it would only sponsor students who had passed their exams with 40 points and above, for a few courses, such as business, law, science, engineering and technology. Along with special education, while the arts were left out.
The information processed reads that out of an estimated 30 000 students who sat for their exams in Botswana, only 4000 had met the impossibly high standard set for sponsorship.
The government has, of late, reversed its decision and, in place, has decided to reduce the points to 36, with a catch.
“We, however, warn that this reversal must not be seen as a permanent stay of execution. The reversal is primarily based on the political pressure that threatened to result in electoral losses. As with the case of school fees in the run up to the 2004 elections, post the 2009 elections the BDP government will display its true colours. Prior to 2004, BDP promised that the introduction of school fees would not result in any child being disallowed to attend school. After the elections, there was an immediate reversal of that promise,” said Saleshando.
Government recently revealed that student’s allowances in tertiary schools would be reduced by 500 pula.
Saleshando said that the unilateral decision that does not take into account the students’ interests nor contracts with the Ministry of Education and skills development will prove counter productive in the long term.
The BCP president demanded that the government acknowledge that tertiary school students are mature citizens with contractual capacity and will undoubtedly be affected by the ‘abrupt’ disease, that is to say, present and future students’ welfares should be taken into account.
“No regard was made for the financial challenges faced by students at tertiary level and no attempt was made to engage the leadership of the student community in the various institutions,” said Saleshando.
As has currently been the case, a directive had been sent out to warn the students who were encouraging thoughts of boycotting classes or striking against any initiatives made by the government concerning their welfare and education.
This came a few weeks after the University of Botswana was closed down after a fully-fledged students’ strike against the Ministry.
Government reaction to the strike left the whole country in awe as pictures were released of police brutally attacking unarmed students.
As it stands, there is nothing the Student Representative Councils in schools can do as the initiative strips them powerless against protesting.
The BCP is once again calling for the resignation of Minister Jacob Nkate from a Ministry, which, they say, has been labeled as controversial and accused of centering on mismanagement.
“On two occasions, the Ministry had to be bailed out through supplementary expenditure exceeding a billion pula, owing primarily to the over enrollment at some of the private tertiary institutions. It is also common knowledge that some of the local tertiary institutions provide sponsorship for Minister Nkate’s political campaign,” said Saleshando.
The announcement comes a day after the country’s vice-president, Mompati Merafhe, revealed that the leadership of the country is happy with Nkate’s work, citing that the Education Ministry is big and very challenging.