By Kwanele Dhladhla | 2022-09-02
Mbabane - About 50 undergraduates, who had been admitted to the University of Botswana (UB), are stranded at Barracks on foreign land because their parents can neither pay for their tuition fees nor cater for their return back home.
The affected students, most of whom had travelled to Botswana with the hope of pursuing studies in medicine, were declined scholarships following the pronouncement to cut the total number of scholarship grants by 1 500.
The Minister of Labour and Social Security, Phila Buthelezi, announced that government scholarship beneficiaries would be reduced from 4 100 to strictly 2 550 during the current academic year.
The State, which spends up to E45 000 on each student per year and E150 000 on each Liswati studying outside of the kingdom, reserved only 50 scholarships for students who intended to study in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
There were 25 scholarship reservations made for students to study in Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This was regardless of the fact that a total of 178 students had been admitted to study various courses in the three countries named above.
The other 25 scholarships reserved for students at SADC universities, yet to be granted, will be issued to students who may want to further their studies in South Africa and Namibia.
In Zimbabwe, government sponsored only one student out of 12 that had been admitted and a handful to study medicine in Zambia.
A majority of the successful applicants which ought to enjoy the benefit of undertaking their tertiary education under the government Scholarship Programme would be based in Botswana.
This move effectively meant that nearly 150 students who had already travelled to the Botswana were forced to turn back home if their parents could not take care of their tertiary, accommodation and living expenses while undergoing lessons.
It has since emerged through information communicated to the interim Parents Association chaired by Harry Shiba that 100 students have returned home while about 50 remain stuck at Barracks – a slang term used in reference to informal student accommodation centres in the republic.
“So far, we have received requests for assistance from parents of 47 students who remain stranded in Botswana,” Shiba disclosed.
Shiba said a majority of the requests that had been received were centred on desperation for monetary help. He mentioned that the parents had allowed their children to stay put in Botswana with the hope that government would have a change of heart after the university extended the deadline for registration to last Friday.
“After we pleaded with government to at least take care of only tuition fees, we really hoped government would come to the party,” Shiba said.
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