VICTORY FOR UNISWA STUDENTS
LOBAMBA – Members of the UNISWA Students Representative Council (SRC) left the House of Assembly all smiles yesterday after MPs adopted and passed the report on the petition for the restoration of their allowances.
The students petitioned government in September last year to restore their allowances, which were reduced by 60 per cent since the 2011/2012 academic year. The money was slashed from about E26 000 (inclusive of accommodation and food) to E9 900.
They had recommended that if government could not manage the E26 000, it should offer them at least E20 000 and the MPs disagreed on the latter and demanded that the report be amended and that part be removed.
MP Jan Sithole, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, argued that it was difficult for students to survive on a poor allowance, as it led to some of them engaging in cultures that affected their morality.
“They end up going for ‘blessers’ just so they can survive. Now since government recovered from the financial strife and even gave back-pay for civil servants, we believe that it should do the same for the students,” he said. He mentioned that his committee had met with all the relevant stakeholders, including leaders of the institutions on the issue, who all agreed that it was affecting the standard of the country’s education.
His presentation saw over 10 members of the House standing up with so much hunger to make submissions and these included the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Winnie Magagula. The MPs supported the petition and the recommendations made and further thanked the students for being patriotic.
When she got her chance to speak, Magagula made clarifications regarding some of the recommendations, one of which was that it was not true that the reduction did not affect students who were studying outside the country.