MINISTER MAKES PROMISE TO TERTIARY STUDENTS
Labour and Social Security Minister Winnie Magagula has promised to pay tertiary students’ allowances by the end of this month.
Riots by University of Swaziland students forced Senate to resolve to close all their campuses since they couldn’t guarantee safety of the property, staff and students.
The riots left four police officers injured whilst a stationery police car and property were vandalised.
Responding to the closure of the university on Thursday, Labour and Social Security Minister Magagula said she felt duty bound to respond to some demands of the students which touch upon her ministry, especially on issues of allowances and book allowances.
Magagula, in a statement, confirmed that government has not yet released allowances to government sponsored students, but had through a circular sent to all the tertiary institutions indicated that they will do so by September 30th.
With regards to the clarity that was sought by the student body concerning the disbursement of student fees, the minister stated: “The said circular was issued on the 21st August, 2017 to all nine Government supported institutions primarily to enable institutions and students to plan and align financial processes with the payment schedule.”
Magagula said the Circular specifically highlighted that for on-going students: (i) Half the tuition fees will be paid by 30th September, 2017 and that the other half is to be paid in February/March 2018.
(ii) Half the accommodation and meals allowance is to be paid by 30th September, 2017 direct to student accounts, for students residing out of university/college facilities. The other half is to be paid in February/March 2018. Accommodation and meals allowances for on campus students will be paid direct to institutions.
(iii) Books, stationery allowance, uniform and protective clothing, personal allowance and other allowances such as project, teaching, nursing practice and internships will be paid direct to students accounts. A waiver was made in respect of book allowances after representations from some training institutions in view of special arrangements that institutions have with students to access books even prior to actual payment of the allowances. UNISWA is one of the institutions for which this waiver was made.
(iv) Student bank directive forms were circulated requesting students to fill in their account numbers to enable transfer of funds to correct student accounts. Most students have not returned these forms to date. This, not withstanding, the ministry is still on schedule to pay-out tuition and allowances by 30th September, 2017.
The minister clarified that payment of student allowances is a process which cannot be started on the Government side until training institutions have closed registration and the window period for students to change programmes has been closed.
“It is after this period that institutions invoice the ministry and each student is cross checked for correctness. This is the stage we are currently at for all ongoing students in all training institutions in the country. We are still on course to deliver on the target date,” she said.
With regards to the issue of first year students, the minister said the list of new Government sponsored students has been dispatched to all training institutions.
“The expectation is that institutions are to deal with these students as if they already have the required funds for learning and invoice Government as per the limits of the offered scholarship. The ministry is currently creating students files and students will be requested to sign study loan agreements and these will be signed within September to allow for disbursement of tuition and allowances to be effected,” she stated.
The minister then appealed and encouraged students to use available platforms within training institutions as well as in the ministry to get any information they may require regarding issues of allowances.
IT A PLEDGE: Labour and Social Security Minister Winnie Magagula.