Palapye Brigade students boycott classes

PALAPYE: Palapye Brigade students on Thursday boycotted classes to protest against non-payment of their P300 monthly allowance over the last seven months.

The students claim that they have brought their grievances to the attention of the Sub Region Education Office on three separate occasions in meetings held a few months ago.  However, they never received feedback as promised by the education officials.

Among the issues they raised during previous meetings is the non-payment of allowances since September last year when it was initially announced that they would be given P300 each.

The students also complained about lack of protective clothing and training equipment, as well as lack of competence among lecturers.  They also expressed concern over the lack of lecturers in other modules, poor communication from the school management coupled with an unsatisfactory menu offered at the institution.The recently elected Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Kealeboga Radichaba, said that students brought forward their grievances as soon as the new committee, which he leads, came into office.

“When we went through the records of previous SRC committees we also realised that issues raised by students are not new and needed immediate attention hence we called for a boycott of classes so that students’ concerns be urgently addressed,” said Radichaba. Head of satellite at Palapye Brigade, Gracious Motlokwa, referred all questions by this publication to her superiors at the Department of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (DTVET).

She stated that she is aware students were not attending classes because they have issues they are not happy with.  For her part, the Deputy Director of Education Development at DTVET, Mildred Boduwe, when addressing students at the school hall made a rare admission that her department has to some extent failed the students.

Most notably, she added that her department has failed to address some major concerns of the students as promised, especially addressing the shortage of lecturers.

She promised that the department would work around the clock to sort out student concerns as soon as possible. As for the allowances she said the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) through Bank of Botswana and Ministry of Finance pays the money to DTVET then to the institution. She indicated that the process takes time and that to date DTVET has not received money from the ministry.

She said: “I checked with DTVET officials in Gaborone through a phone call, but they said the money has not reported into our accounts.  I have instructed them to follow up with the HRDC to establish if they have processed the funds and I am hopeful the issue will be dealt with soon”.

Boduwe further pleaded with the students to pardon them for their poor service delivery and failure to communicate with them.

“I promise you that your issues have been heard, and I request that you give me a realistic timeline so that I can engage relevant authorities to come up with a solution that will solve all the issues you have raised here today. I promise you that if we say we failed, we will make sure to have resolved at least 80 percent of your grievances,” she said.

The students have given the DTVET Deputy Director only up to the first week of next term, April 17 to address their concerns.  Radichaba vowed that they would continue with their class boycott until their grievances are addressed.

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