Students demand audience with Minister

More than 200 students from tertiary institutions around Harare led by Zimbabwe National Student's Union (ZINASU) President, Brilliant Dube and Secretary General, Lovemore Chinoputsa today, 8 September 2009 staged a peaceful march in Harare demanding an audience with Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Stan Mudenge over exorbitant fees and the continued neglect of educational institutions by the inclusive government.

The main aim of this march was to seek audience with Minister Mudenge over exorbitant fees charged in state institutions, the inadequacy of student grants which cater for less than 5% of students nationwide and the repressive ordinances responsible for the expulsion of student activists', said Ms. Dube during an interview with The Catalyst. The students marched peacefully from corner Julius Nyerere and Park Street to the New Government Complex where they handed in a petition to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Stan Mudenge.

According to the delegation which met Mr. Mudenge, the Minister exhibited knowledge of the unaffordability of the tuition fees and assured the student leaders that their concerns would be addressed. He however stated that tertiary institutions were instructed not to dismiss students or defer their studies on the basis of non-payment of tuition fees.

Zimbabwe's education sector has over the years, degenerated owing to mismanagement and corruption by the government. Following the formation of the inclusive government, institutions, which had shut their doors to students, were reopened and resources channeled towards revamping the sector. The largest institution, the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) was only opened in August more than five months after its closure on the grounds of lack of adequate water supplies. However, the opening of education institutions has been met by unavailability of adequate resources to re-attract lecturers who deserted the profession at the height of Zimbabwe's economic crunch leaving the institutions under staffed.  

Exorbitant tuition fees have also affected students as most of them cannot afford the fees charged. On average, tertiary institutions are charging USD400 per semester, a figure which is unreachable even to civil servants who are earning an average of USD150 a month. State institutions are ideally supposed to cater for students from poor backgrounds that are unable to afford expensive private colleges and universities.


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