Student representatives of tertiary institutions in the southern part of the country have aired displeasure with the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology. The students say they are concerned with the time taken by the ministry to have their issues resolved. The students aired these concerns during a consultative meeting with the Minister Dr Alfred Madigele on Thursday. Tertiary education sector has been facing protests students opposed to taking unaccredited courses. The matter saw the students petitioning the minister for intervention. However, it still looks like things have not been addressed. The students did not shy away from telling the minister their disappointments with his ministry. A representative of the University of Botswana Student Representative Council (SRC) Dikosha Dikosha called on Dr Madigele to intervene in the current disciplinary hearings going on at their school. Dikosha said the hearings are illegal and unjust and only threatening the future of the students. “We have long requested the minister to intervene and stop the hearings and reverse the suspensions of students. Examinations are starting next week and these students are not attending classes. This means they are going to miss a lot and this could affect their future,” he said. His sentiments were shared by a representative from Botho University who said SRC members at the institutions have not been attending classes since January. Both the students called on the minister to intervene in order to protect the future of the students as they are missing their studies. They believe that the students were fighting the just course and there is need for reconciliation between students and the management of the institutions.
Dr Madigele said the disciplinary hearing process is entirely the responsibility of the institutions and he cannot interfere with it. He advised the students to wait until the process is concluded after which the students can appeal to him after exhausting all the channels. “We are still waiting on the UB disciplinary process to finish and I cannot intervene now because I will be seen as interfering with the process. If I interfere I will be destroying the process,” explained Dr Madigele. The students, however, did not seem satisfied with the answer. On the issues of the Botho University petition Dr Madigele admitted the delay, saying it was caused by a hiccup at Botswana Qualification Authority (BQA). He explained that a report was produced but they felt it contained a lot of unsubstantiated reporting. The minister however said the report is expected to be released on Tuesday next week. He assured students that he will go to their respective institutions to address their issues. Students from the Roads training Centre (RTC) and Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources requested the minister to have the two institutions transferred to his ministry. Students from RTC argued that they are currently neglected and unrecognised and relocating them to the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology might help the situation. The permanent secretary in the Ministry Dr Theophilus Mooko said the meeting with the students is a way of getting to appreciate their experiences and get first-hand information of their problems. Dr Mooko explained that they will be also holding the same for the tertiary students north of Dibete next week.