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Madigele intervenes in Oodi College demonstrations

GOITSEMODIMO KAELO
The Minister of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology Dr Alfred Madigele was on Thursday forced to intervene and calm down the situation at the Oodi College of Applied Arts and Technology (OCAAT).

This followed the incident in which the students clashed with the police during a demonstration over unpaid living allowances. Classes at the vocational college were suspended while members of staff and their support colleagues waited outside the college, after the students barricaded the college gate with tree branches and stones. Despite the situation calming down on Wednesday afternoon, the Minister was forced to rush to Oodi as the situation had worsened in the evening. 

The students had intensified their protest, turning it violent, as they had not received the money as promised by the school management the previous day. However, no injuries have been reported.

Following his visit to the school, Madigele told Mmegi that after listening to the students’ grievances he realised that the matter was an internal one. He confirmed that the students last received their allowances in December 2015.

“I found that this is an internal problem. The students last received their allowances in December and that was the contention of their demonstration,” he said.

He said the students could not get their allowances because the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) fund from which the financial support for technical colleges came from is depleted.

“These technical and vocational colleges are not the same as other universities as they have been receiving sponsorship

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from HRDC. The fund was exhausted. As it is the case, HRDC is not forced by the law to continue helping after April. The allowances for January to March were delayed because the money is released in batches from the HRDC, so they could not release it then.”

He continued: “I managed to secure the funds today from HRDC and we are certain that all will receive their allowance before the end of today (last week Thursday).”

He further said part of the delay was that most of the students’ accounts have been cancelled because they stayed for long time unused ,hence the transfer could not be done electronically.    

Madigele took the reins of the new Ministry following the division of the Ministry of Education and Skills Development. He said higher education issues need to be addressed in entirety.

“We are going to have to deal with these issues with new reforms and transformations. We have to look into issues of alignment of technical colleges and colleges of education, teacher training and development as well as transformation to get value for money. We are going to rationalise.”  Madigele said there is need to re-align institutions of training according to industry needs while looking at maintaining consistency and uniformity in tertiary institutions.



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