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MANZINI - Scholarship dilemma!

This is what the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students are facing as they are supposed to begin their 2021/22 academic year. The dilemma attracted the attention of other students as they feared that government could be in a move to removed more courses from the list of priority programmes it sponsored, following the fact that in 2011, it removed some courses, including Law. In fact, the students alleged that word they got from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security on Tuesday, when their list for scholarships was submitted by the university, was that they would have to pay tuition fees from their own pockets.

These claims were confirmed by UNESWA Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Thabani Mabuza, who said after getting the alleged developments, they approached the office of the Dean of Students Affairs (DSA) and they learnt that indeed there was a challenge. Thereafter, he said they held a student body meeting where the scholars raised a concern  that maybe government was in a move to remove PGCE from its priority programmes, which it sponsored. Other students were of the view that if government removed PGCE this year, it might remove more courses from the list of programmes which it sponsored, in the coming years.


“Therefore, the students decided to boycott classes today (yesterday) and that today (tomorrow) we march to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to demand scholarships for all students who have been admitted to tertiary institutions, including those who are doing courses like Law, which were scrapped out from the list of programmes sponsored by government,” the CEO said. On the other hand, Mabuza said the semester was almost halfway through, but they had not received their book allowances from government. He said when they engaged government recently; it promised that it would pay their personal allowances first - at the end of January 2022. He said according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, after paying allowances at the end of this month, it would then pay book allowances.

“Therefore, as things stand, it seems students are self-sponsored because some of the things they need in order to learn, they pay for them from their own pockets,” the CEO said.
In that regard, he said at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security today, they would also demand the immediate release of their book allowances. It is worth noting that government is supposed to pay the students’ book allowances directly into their bank accounts, not to the university as it used to do. This follows a complaint by the students that the prices at the university book shop were higher than those of other stationery shops.

Regarding the proposed march, the Municipal Council of Mbabane Information and Public Relations Officer, Lucky Tsabedze,  said the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Prince Simelane, issued a directive to all local governments in the country regarding marches. He said the directive of the minister still stood. Worth noting is that the minister’s directive was that local governments should stop issuing permits for marches. On the other hand, Deputy Police Information and Communications Officer Inspector Nosipho Mnguni said law enforcers would be working today and if there would be people who wanted to march, they would demand to see a permit. She said if they did not have it, they would work according to the law.

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