Saturday, September 25, 2021

Students to start paying their way through tertiary education

Parents will start paying fees for their children who attend tertiary institution as part of a cost sharing measure to be introduced by the Ministry of Education, Skills and Development (MoESD).

Government will no longer pay living and academic costs of students in tertiary institutions. This was revealed by the Minister of MoESD Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi when responding to a motion tabled MP for Okavango Bagalatia Arone.

The motion seeks to review the tertiary student’s allowances in view of the cost of living. Venson-Moitoi, however, rejected the motion. “We want to bring parents on board to take care of their children who are students. We are contemplating on bringing cost-sharing, increasing the allowance is not in resonance with the policy posture we want to embark on as a ministry going forward.”

Arone had argued that student’s allowances should be increased given the changing socio-economic challenges faced by learners. He pleaded with Parliament to review the allowance in view of the escalating rental costs and general high cost of living to reduce stress to promote academic excellence.

“The reduction of students allowance from P1920 to a paltry P1420, which in-fact was initially bereft of proper consultation proves to be a thorn on the students. They had learnt to budget around P1920,” said Arone.

The legislator said the reduction of allowance also led to unbecoming behaviour by students such as prostitution in a bid to make end meets.

But Venson-Moitoi rejected the motion outright. “The MP must be told that throwing money at a problem especially the one affecting young-ones is not always the solution. Moreover, allowance was never meant to meet all the costs needed to take students through their academic journey. What is worth-noting is that these students earn more than many permanently employed workers,” said Venson-Moitoi.

She also did take kindly to the use of the word prostitution by Arone.

“Those who engage in prostitution do it at their own volition; not because of poverty. Prostitution has nothing to do with poverty”, said Venson-Moitoi.

MP for Francistown South, Winter Mmolotsi, lambasted Venson-Moitoi and government for being inconsiderate.

“It is now trendy and fashionable for government to cut allowances selectively. Such unfortunate measures are just arrived at overnight with no or inadequate consultation. One wonders why Ministers can’t cut their own luxurious allowances. Why cut students allowances?” asked Mmolotsi.

He added that “This government is inconsiderate and wasteful. Money is spent on pet projects which are meaningless. It is absurd to compare students’ loan allowances with worker’s salaries which government deliberately opted to keep low. The students’ allowances are a loan. The issue of failure to recollect loans from the past debtors and beneficiaries is purely an administrative incompetence on the part of MoESD; this must not be a made a burden of students.”

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