Thursday, January 28, 2021

UB students threaten legal action against Education Ministry

In the week in which the University of Botswana (UB) was to be officially opened, students find themselves on the verge of yet another policy disagreement with the allegedly ‘broke and corrupt’ Ministry of Education.

This time the students are threatening to send an urgent application to Court, taking the ministry to task for allegedly breeching contractual terms.

Among the students’ main concerns is that the ministry had reneged on its decision to provide the students’ personal and maintenance allowances, especially those who are retaking courses they couldn’t manage to rewrite in their fixed course duration.

It also emerged that students who studied at the university up to 2004 are considered as retaking students and are, therefore, excluded from the ministry’s payroll.

Students have also been experiencing emotional turmoil due to several unexplained causes.
Disbursement of students’ allowances and monies is reportedly chaotic with some students receiving their allowances twice or thrice a month, only to find themselves not receiving any allowance for the following two months. Some do not receive their allowances at all and only do so after protracted demands and confrontations.

A strike has been ruled out as a possibility but the students are adamant in their decision to boycott classes until the situation is sorted out.   
The Student Council demanded of the UB management to convince the Ministry of Education to halt breeching terms of the contract signed between them and the students.    
 
Allegedly, off-campus students are sometimes given a measly allowance.
According to Molema Molema, the Minister for Academic Affairs, the excuse given by the Ministry is that they use students’ payroll from the first semester to distribute the second semester’s allowances despite the fact that a new semester allows one to change their residential status at registration.
 
“It’s completely unacceptable; someone is sleeping on the job. I can assure you that the SRC takes constant trips to the Ministry of Education tirelessly and every time we want to see the Minister or those who can be of use to our pleas, they are forever attending conferences and endless meetings. We have had it,” said Molema.
  
The Vice president of the SRC, Molatedi Kgotla, said that they found all these reshufflings surprising, more so that they are only applicable to UB students, even though the ministry is sponsoring other students in South Africa and even at BCA but who somehow manage to escape the ministry’s wrath.

In defence of their decision to take their ministry to task, Kgotla declared that the ministry has been taking UB students’ issues for granted. He said the ministry never addresses their problems on time.
All this despite the fact that UB is considered to be the highest institution of learning in Botswana.
 
“These are not the conditions we sat down as students and signed an agreement to when we received sponsorship; we were promised a sponsorship until we finish the requirements of the course we enrolled in, and we will fight tooth and nail to make sure they hold up their end of the deal,” said Kgotla.
The students have set a deadline for tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon after which they will file the court application if their demands are not met. 

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