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UB to reopen on March 6

BABOKI KAYAWE
UB students during their protest last week PIC: KAGISO ONKATSWITSE
The Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Alfred Madigele says the University of Botswana (UB) will reopen on March 6, 2017 after it was closed recently following violent protests by students.

UB students went on the rampage last week citing the non-payment of their allowances.  Government closed the University indefinitely, throwing hundreds of students into the streets from where some were rescued by well-wishers with shelter and other supplies.

The protests at the UB appeared to trigger similar actions at Botho and Ba ISAGO Universities, with students there taking to the streets to air their grievances.

In  Parliament yesterday afternoon, Madigele slammed 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. “The normal process is that before a student can be given allowance, the institution where he or she is studying should have submitted information to the (DTEF) on that student’s status at the beginning of the semester,” he said.

“It would not be advisable to continue paying allowances when there is no evidence from the institutions that students are active as this can only lead to the phenomenon known as ‘ghost students’.

“Unfortunately, most institutions failed to comply with this requirement and consequently students’ allowances were not paid on time.”

Vowing to leave “no stone unturned to find and discipline those who are at fault”, Madigele said institutions need to review their processes particularly the administration of supplementary exams, processing and release of results and the management of registration.

Addressing complaints by private tertiary students that some of the courses they are sponsored for are not accredited and thus useless, Madigele said this was a result of past regulations.

“It is worth highlighting that the current scenario is a product

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of a transition of past regulations that allowed students to enrol for programmes which could be provisionally accredited, approved but not yet accredited,” he said. He said prior to the establishment of the Botswana Qualifications Authority, the regulations around private tertiary institutions meant that a situation could develop where a programme was approved to enrol students before it was accredited.

On the contentious issue of book allowances, the Minister said a decision had been taken to credit students’ book allowances directly into their accounts with effect from the next academic year.

Currently, the DTEF pays allowances for the purchase of students’ books and other materials to institutions that credit into students’ cards. The institutions contract private bookshops that set up within campuses, but students have perennially complained of the high costs of the materials, saying the bookshops abuse their monopolies.

“We are aware that the Competition Authority has registered its discomfort with this arrangement. As a result, we shall with effect from the next academic year credit the book allowance directly to the students’ accounts to ensure uniformity and consistency,” Madigele said.

He said the Ministry was also developing service level agreements, which will be used to monitor service and delivery among education and training providers. Responding to MPs questions on the short time students were given to vacate the UB last week, Madigele said the urgency was necessary as there was damage to property and a “threat to life”.  He also denied awareness of an incident in which a transgender UB student claims she was stripped and harassed by police after her arrest.



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