No students' grants: Minister

HARARE - Government is unable to reintroduce student grants due to financial constraints, Higher Education deputy minister Godfrey Gandawa said.

This comes as student representative committees (SRCs) have been demanding the grants on the back of economic hardships that have hit most students in colleges and varsities.

Speaking in the House of Assembly this week, he said: “At the moment government has fiscal constraints and we can, therefore, not reinstate the grants to the education sector.”

“...we are looking at ways to come up with loans but we cannot disburse grants at the moment,” Gandawa said.

“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has already advertised for financiers that can give such loans at low premiums so that students can be able to pay for their tuition and accommodation fees,” he said.

Gandawa said students may start getting the loans in September this year.

“The RBZ and Finance ministry are working on the modalities so that we can have discussions with financiers so that the students can be assisted in that regard at tertiary institutions and colleges.  This is still under consideration.

“Government and financiers are going to come up with an agreement that will be user friendly to the students upon their attaining their degrees and once they attain employment,” he said, adding that “the modalities are going to be worked out and it is work in progress”.

“Under our plans with the Finance ministry and RBZ, we hope that when the September semester starts, we would be in a position to be disbursing these funds.”

Early this year, tertiary students requested a meeting with Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and a parliamentary panel to discuss re-introduction of the students’ grants.

“It would be folly of the highest kind and unparalleled naivety for us to just accept Moyo’s promise as it is and not make any follow up. The government has promised to bring back loans before without actually doing so,” University of Zimbabwe SRC spokesperson Tafadzwa Chabata said then.

SRCs have reported massive dropout rates at universities because of tuition fees challenges, with the  Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) claiming that at least 12 000 threw in the towel in the first quarter of 2016 alone.

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