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Last Updated
Friday 11 June 2021, 13:14 pm.
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Govt retreats on education

The government has revised up its decision to sponsor only 4, 600 students to nearly 9, 000 students and reduced the cut-off point from 40 points to 36 points for consideration for sponsorship at tertiary institutions.
By CHANDAPIWA BAPUTAKI
Staff Writer
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Govt retreats on education








At a press conference yesterday, Vice President Mompati Merafhe said the government was committed to educating citizens, hence it had heeded the public outcry against the earlier decision announced just before the Easter weekend.

Merafhe explained that the P317 million budgetary allocation for sponsoring students was not enough. "(We (therefore) went to the UB Foundation and borrowed P115 million which we have to return in a year," he said.

The Vice President revealed that local tertiary students' allowances had been reduced to P1, 420 from P1, 920, resulting in savings totalling P105 million to be channelled to sponsoring new students.

But the allowances for the students studying outside the country will remain the same, except for those in Malaysia, whose lifestyle is still being reviewed against their allowances.

"They (students in Botswana) will have to pardon us for that decision," he said. "Whatever sacrifices we make, all must contribute to assisting during this period."

The government is adopting a no-holds-barred approach to cut-costs that will see ministers travel without their spouses, government officials fly economy class, their delegations trimmed down and students' allowances slashed in order to re-coup money to put more young people through higher education.

Government departments will also have to generate their own savings. "Whatever sacrifices we make, all must contribute to assisting during this period," Merafhe told a press conference at the Btv auditorium yesterday.

Under the unpopular earlier decision, the government was going to sponsor students only for selected priority courses.

Merafhe said another cost-cutting measure was that government officials would no longer fly first class in

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their international trips. "We have also requested that all departments reduce their recurrent budgets by seven percent and the development budget by five percent. That is to say that every ministry is to generate its own savings," he said.

The Vice President also revealed that government department had been requested to trim their delegations when going on trips. "It has also been requested that spouses of cabinet ministers do not accompany them on international trips," Merafhe said.

The government's commitment to the welfare of young people was a record that spoke for itself; the 2, 103 graduates earning P2,000 on their internships in government departments and parastatals pointed to this commitment. "We do not want the youth to idle at home," he said. "That is why we introduced constituency (soccer) leagues to keep them off the street."

Meanwhile, the Minister of Education (MoE) says the government is owed over P300 million by graduates. Speaking at the same press conference, Jacob Nkate said his ministry was doing everything it could to retrieve the money and was recruiting people to beef up the special section of loan recovery.

He said MoE had advertised for independent debt collectors but had found them too costly to engage.

The government's decision to set the cut-off point to 40 points had caused public outcry, sparking fear among some that voters, especially the youth ,would punish the ruling Botswana Democratic Party at the next general elections.

Critics of the system said it would set back the strides currently being made in higher education.

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