Students from tertiary institutions would likely get an allowance increase by end of this month, Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Ngaka Ngaka has said. The minister said there are plans to adjust students’ off-campus allowance but would not commit the extent of the adjustment as the matter has not been finalised.
“I will make an announcement before end of this month. The allowance is presently not attracting any inflationary adjustments purely because this is a budgetary matter. We have a limited budget against the ever-increasing numbers of students needing sponsorship,” said Ngaka.The minister told parliament that funds permitting, they could consider ways of linking the frequency of adjustments, as well as the magnitude of the adjustments, to inflationary trends. “I cannot say here that the allowance would be taken back to P1 900.00 or not. This is because we are not only looking at off-campus students’ allowance.
“We are dealing with a broad evaluation and the report would advise us on how to go about everything,” he said. Ngaka indicated that last year his ministry engaged Students Representatives Councils from government and private institutions in Gaborone and Francistown regarding the matter. He said they did this so that both parties would have a common understanding of the matter and challenges the ministry is faced with. The minister was responding to a question from Member of Parliament for Gaborone North Haskins Nkaigwa who wanted to know if there are plans to upgrade and why the allowance is not attracting inflationary adjustments.
In May this year, Botswana National Union of Students (BONUS) wrote to the ministry demanding the students’ allowances to be increased from P1, 400 to P2, 000. In the letter dated April 10, 2018 addressed to the ministry’s permanent secretary, copied to Minister Ngaka and his deputy Fidelis Molao, BONUS said their demand was influenced by the high cost of living. The students whom at that time wanted to deliver a petition to the minister failed because the minister indicated that he was not informed well on time.
The letter requested government to review the tertiary students’ living allowances in view of escalating rental costs and the general high cost of living. BONUS Treasurer, Tlotlo Madisa said in the letter “the cost of living is high due to increases such as the recent review of the public transport fares, increase in commodities in the past nine years since the allowance was reduced in 2009. Students find it hard to survive”. In April this year, Alliance for Progressives (AP) Youth League also lobbied student bodies within tertiary institutions to mount pressure on government to increase students’ allowances. Young Progressives President Jacob Kelebeng said as young progressives they believe it is time something is done about the issue. The cost of living is very high and what the students are getting is too little for them to keep up with the changing and challenging world, he said.
“President Mokgweetsi Masisi as the former minister of education, we are sure he is aware of the demand on the call of allowance increment by the students due to the current economic status. About eight years ago student allowance were decreased from P1, 920 to P1, 420 on the notion that the country was going under recession. “Over the years the cost of living has escalated at a higher rate therefore there is a need for increment of allowance to match the cost of living. As the youth league we have since resolved to mobilise the SRCs, students and all members of progressive student movements to demand allowance increment as a matter of urgency,” Kelebeng said at the time.