Tertiary student representative council leaders have joined hands to petition government over their demand to have student allowances increased before end of this year.
UB-SRC President Prosper Lorato told The Telegraph that they recently requested for audience from the Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr Douglas Letsholathebe, but that fell on deaf ears.
He stated that they have now resorted to hand over a petition to the Minister with their demands and a period within which he should have responded.
“After the appeal to the Minister requesting to be given audience there was no productivity as expected, so we decided as tertiary SRC leaders to schedule a meeting and discuss a way,” he said.
Lorato said they are calling for allowance increase by 35% which will effectively mean that on-campus students will receive P1700 from P1300 while off campus students will receive P2200 from P1600.
“The reasons behind appeal for increment is that the standard of living no longer match the position we are in right now because the rise in fuel prices also give rise in public transport fares,”
“An off-campus student is expected to come to school every day and some even ride public transport four times a day so you can imagine the costs incurred,” said Lorato.
He further said student allowances were at some point reduced without any valid reason adding that this is an opportune time to increase it in order to cushion the students.
“Commodity prices have gone up and it should be taken into consideration that students are also expected to pay rent with the little money they are being given,” he said.
Lorato highlighted that government is ignorant to the issues that they have raised.
“We intend to formulate plans which will force government to be responsive to issues we continue to raise,” said Lorato.
When contacted for comment, Minister of Education and Skills Development Dr Douglas Letsholathebe said he is still outside the country and will only attend to the issue when he is back.
Letsholathebe recently told Parliament that plans were underway to consult all stakeholders on the proposed new model for students funding in an effort to lift the financial burden, which currently stands at P60 million per month, off itself.
Letsholathebe said the discussion will involve the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) to help with a framework for linking student applications with the earnings of parents. “We will also include social workers in this process to ensure that students are not disadvantaged because you and I agree will agree that there are wealthy parents out there who can assist their children financially,” he asserted.
The hope is that the first exercise will allow the government to review tertiary allowances for disadvantaged students continuously, he added. “We know that there are students who desperately need the allowance more than others. To some it is not even enough to cater for their needs,” the minister noted.