Varsity students forecast tough 2017

HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) has forecast “a very tough 2017” following a massive cut on tertiary education spending among a plethora of challenges crippling the economy.

In his 2017 budget, Finance Patrick Chinamasa cut the amount allocated to higher and tertiary education by over 30 percent — apportioning $200 million as compared to 2016’s $304 million.

“The budget cut by Chinamasa is exacerbating an already precarious situation for students. Over 12 000 students dropped out of college in the first quarter of 2016 alone and the situation is set to worsen this year,” Zinasu spokesperson Zivai Mhetu said.

“Students are reeling from insurmountable pressure as a result of our underperforming economy which is teetering on the precipice of total collapse,” he said.

“Many of the woes currently being faced by students are inextricably linked to the deplorable and fast deteriorating economic crisis which has reached alarming levels,” he added.

“Students are dropping out because their parents have no money to pay fees as a result of unemployment. It is abundantly clear and irrefutably true that for as long as the economy continues to totter, the plight of students will not improve.”

This comes as government is planning to set up universities in Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Matabeleland, with $1,75 million allocated in the 2017 National Budget for the development of master plans and designs for the three institutions.

Parliament has passed the Bills legislating for the set-up of the universities, which now await presidential assent.

But tertiary students are taking government’s plan to launch three new State universities and shore up existing institutions with a pinch of salt saying they have since lost faith in government’s will to fulfil its promises.

“This is a chance for government to prove us wrong,” Mhetu said.

“The government is struggling to pay workers in the ten State Universities already in existence, students have no accommodation, infrastructure in some colleges is in a state of disrepair; all the money Chinamasa channelled towards the development of plans and designs for new colleges should have gone towards colleges that are already there.

“When all colleges in Zimbabwe have enough facilities to cater for students they enrol, the government can start thinking about building more colleges, not now.”

Chinamasa, on his part, has ensured that of the overall budget allocation, $23, 2 million is towards the completion of on-going construction works to alleviate shortage of accommodation at some learning institutions.

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