Tuesday, March 2, 2021

UB students threaten Education ministry with strike

University of Botswana (UB) students are threatening to embark on a full strike if the Minister of Education and Skills Development, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, fails to respond to their grievances within 14 Days.

The UB SRC is threatening to bring University business to a halt by leading a massive class boycott
The SRC President, Kago Mokotedi, accused the minister of making empty promises and failing to resolve issues affecting students’ welfare.

“The minister had made it clear that she will resolve the book store issue which is the centre of dispute within the campus as we speak…that is why we want to go on a peaceful class boycott should the minister fail to address the matter.”

It is also disturbing as UB management, through Deputy Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Professor Lydia Nyathi-Saleshando, turn to defend the book store issue as she seems to have some direct or indirect benefit from the proceeds,” said Mokotedi.

He said the students had agreed to suspend their peaceful strike for 14 days to get a clear answer from the Education minister.

“Within those 14 days, we will also wait for the intervention of the Vice President, Ponatshego Kedikilwe, on the matter. We are aware that he is still attending some international relations issues but immediately he steps into the country, we hope he will attend to our problems as we have communicated with his office asking for his intervention,” he said.

Mokotedi told The Telegraph that the Book Store issue is long overdue and could have long been resolved but UB management seems to have a hand in it. He said the students want the control of their study loan because they are going to pay back the money to government at the end of their studies.

Mokotedi added that the UB book store is operating as a monopoly and is controlling their purchasing power and Professor Saleshando is also using her administrative muscle to block them from raising their problems.

Mokotedi claims that Professor Saleshando is incompetent and hostile to be engaged in dialogue to resolve burning issues affecting students.

“On the 21st of this month, the Minister of Education and Skills Development promised to address us at 10:30 am but she failed to honour her promise and later a memo signed by UB Vice Chancellor Thabo Fako was issued around the school that the school management would address the students at 1pm but that never happened,” said Mokotedi.

He said to their surprise, they were told that the University had reported the matter to the Central Police that Fako’s signature was used to sign a memo which was never from any of his offices or UB management. He added that the development came after they visited Fako’s office to inquire about why he failed to address them.

UB Public Relations Officer, Mhitshwane Reetsang, confirmed reporting the matter to police saying Fako’s signature was forged onto documents which were never from his office or UB management.

She said the students were advised through a memo to refer their issues, particularly the book store allowance issue to the Ministry of Education not to UB management
Reetsang said the second memo was not from the University and that is why they had lodged a case for the police to investigate the matter.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Education has ordered UB students boycotting classes over book allowances to return to class with immediate effect or risk having their scholarships withdrawn.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Of Education, Grace Muzila, said in a statement that the Ministry had noted that the disturbances at the university are caused by a section of the student body and that urgent action would be taken against those students.

She added that the termination of scholarships will not only apply to government sponsored students at UB but also to those at other tertiary institutions.

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