- 500 students may be aff ected at UB
- P627m set aside for first-year students
The Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Machana Shamukuni, has advised magosi to approach Parliament again for a supplementary budget to sponsor more students this year.
Last August, the government said it had set over P627 million aside for sponsoring first-year tertiary students this financial year.
Kgosi Sibangani Mosojane of the North East Region had wanted the minister to brief the Upper House on the effectiveness of the Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF) in assisting applicants in rural areas to secure sponsorships for tertiary education and whether the ministry would assist tertiary students who discontinued for two years and needed to re-apply.
Shamukuni said although his ministry has a shortage of funds to continue sponsoring students whose tertiary sponsorships were terminated due to poor performance, they intend to table a supplementary proposal before Parliament in due course in order to assist more students.
“Government is faced with financial difficulties owing to the outbreak of COVID-19 and my ministry has failed to sponsor students who desired to retake their modules this year,” he said.
Government has previously indicated that it spends over P60 million a month on student allowances and that this was becoming unsustainable.
The Director in the Department of Tertiary Education Financing, Neo Sebolao, told a media briefing recently that it would be difficult this year to sponsor students seeking to progress in their education and those seeking to re-take modules.
Sebolao said funds were available only for students seeking to commence their first year cycle, a good number of whom had already received their sponsorship letters and begun their studies.
She said a total of 8, 500 Batswana students who finished their secondary school education last year qualify for sponsorship this year. She added that although there were no funds to sponsor progressions and re-sponsorships, they would be considered if funds remained after sponsoring prospective first year students.
“Sponsoring students to progress in their education levels and also sponsoring re-sponsorships is a privilege and students know that very well,” Sebolao emphasised.
She noted that COVID-19 has brought about disruptions in the sense that new students were expected to report to their institutions late. “Even last year we experienced the same (thing) because institutions had closed and there also was an issue of finances,” she added.
But at the University of Botswana, the president of the Student Representative Council (UB-SRC), Carter Joseph, said some students’ sponsorships were unfairly terminated without prior consultation, hence the government is finding itself pressed to find funds to re-sponsor them. Joseph noted that in the last academic year of 2020-2021, there was a review of academic regulations for progressing to the next semester as the old one was perceived to be oppressive on students.
“Students were told that the new regulations would allow students to proceed to the next semester even with a failed 50 percent, so we are shocked that this has been overlooked,” he said.
He said more than 500 students were not able to continue with their studies in the academic year that began in August this year.