Observer on Saturday - - Front Page - By Alec Lushaba

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.

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