Following a violent strike on February 9, 2017 the University of Botswana (UB) main campus closed until March 6. A lot has been written about this particular student strike and countless others years ago.
At the beginning of every year there is a strike at UB. The uprising is always about late payment of allowances and meals. Six days later the minister of Tertiary Education Dr Alfred Madigele in Parliament criticised institutions for not complying with a requirement to submit students’ academic results and registers on time to enable the Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF) to process allowances on time.
He said the normal process is that before a student can be given an allowance, the institution where he or she is studying should have submitted information to DTEF on the student’s status at the beginning of the semester.
This is because it is not advisable to continue paying allowances when there is no evidence from the institutions that students are active as this can lead to ghost students.
We wrote on this editorial column that most institutions, if not all, fail to comply with the requirement and this leads to late payment of students’ allowances. To cut a long story short, the minister vowed to crack the whip and discipline those who are at fault. In fact all the MPs who commented after his speech also blamed UB management and DTEF for the violent protests in tertiary schools across the country.
The legislators also encouraged
We agreed with the Honorable minister. UB management and DTEF this time cannot be allowed to escape with murder. We learned with shock that five UB Student Representative Council (SRC) leaders and 19 other students were summoned for disciplinary hearing recently. By slapping students with disciplinary action, the UB management is absolving officers who contributed to the strike. The UB leadership is applying double standards in this case and they should be stopped in their dirty tracks.
Why punish the students when some people at DTEF and UB failed to perform their duties? This also shows that the leadership did not learn from past mistakes. UB is supposed to be an academic centre of intellectualism but in most cases the leadership from this premier institution leaves a lot to be desired. Like we said before, it is not too late for the parties in this mess to reconcile. It is not time to start the blame game. Reconciliation will mend bridges in this case.
“I am intentionally discoursing on conflict and conflict resolution because of the latest unfortunate events where there was conflict between education providers and students. We need to find solutions to the problems bedeviling us.”
– Dr Alfred Madigele