FRANCISTOWN: Tertiary students in the north have applauded Dr Alfred Madigele’s decision to allow government sponsored students to work part-time in order to improve their welfare.
The Student Representative Council members from different tertiary education institutions expressed their gratitude to Madigele, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science, and Technology (TERST), when he addressed them at the Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE) recently.
The SRC leaders said the decision was most welcome as their members have been complaining about their P1,420 living allowance, which they say does not cover their basic needs.
In an interview with Mmegi, the SRC president of Gaborone Institution of Professional Studies in Francistown, Shabane Onkabetse said that the Minister’s pronouncement is something that they have long waited for.
He said that living allowance is not enough as it does not cater for all the basic necessities including food and accommodation.
However, Onkabetse said the decision might not necessarily be good for all as some students have a lot of studies to tackle on a daily basis.
“It is even possible for the institutions to be uncooperative towards the decision by giving us extra lessons and a lot of school work load,” he said.
Another participant, Botswana Wildlife Training Institute (BWTI) SRC president Onthusitse Pule said that the initiative will come in handy as they will be able to bear the expense of their assignments.
He said that currently they are getting as little as P150 as their living allowance, which is difficult to sustain them.
He said allowing government-sponsored students to work part-time will not only increase their earnings, but also allow them to gain the much needed work experience.
Pule prayed that the resolution could be put into action before the beginning of the next semester, which usually commence around July.
But he is also worried that not all students will benefit, arguing that their institution’s study timetable is very tight, with lessons starting at 7am and ending at 7.30pm.
When Mmegi sought more clarity, the assistant minister of TERST, Fidelis Molao explained that the resolution would give students an upper hand to make extra money so that they could cover up expenses that the living allowance may not. He said that in the past student protested about the amount of the living allowance and wanted it to be increased.
Molao said that they have heard the cry of the students and hope they would use the opportunity wisely. However, said the assistant minister, the government would not be accountable for placing students at the workplaces.
He indicated that even though tertiary students are given the chance, not all of them would be able to find jobs, so it was upon the students to work harder in order to earn more.
Molao said they should not abuse the chance to work part time by absconding from school.
“Our expectation as the sponsor is for students to attend school on their scheduled timetables. They should concentrate on their studies, be able to pass and graduate,” he said.
He said that they do not expect the students to fail nor leave their studies and request for re-sponsorship and reinstatements.
Re-sponsorship, Molao argued, would deny other students the possibility of being sponsored by the government.