THE cadetship programme that pays fees for university students who cannot afford is not defunct, but is experiencing cashflow problems, a government official has said.
Report by Khanyile Mlotshwa, Staff Reporter
The government introduced the programme to pay fees for struggling students, who would in turn work in Zimbabwe after college for an equal number of years they received funding.
At the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year, State universities around the country refused to register more than 50 000 tertiary students who are on the cadetship programme before the government cleared its outstanding payments.
This raised fears among stakeholders that the programme had been scrapped.
However, in an interview with NewsDay at the weekend, Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister Lutho Tapela allayed the fears, saying: “The cadet programme is not closed. The ministry just owes universities. We owe something like $15 million backdated to 2010.
“I also feel people are blaming my ministry unfairly, because we are just a conduit between the Ministry of Finance and universities.”
Zachariah Mushawatu, the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) spokesperson, said the situation at universities “was posing a crisis in the education sector as some students were opting to drop out”.
“What is happening is that students on the cadetship programme in most universities, except the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), are not registering,” he said.
“This is actually a crisis because some students have opted to abandon their studies. Zinasu is calling on the government to speedily appoint a new Higher Education minister who should look into that as soon as yesterday.”
Mushawatu also blasted what he alleged to be the ministry’s favouritism, saying they negotiated for students at UZ to register, but did not have a similar arrangement for those at other State universities.
“Students at the UZ are going ahead with their studies,” he said. “We don’t understand why the ministry was able to negotiate for students at the UZ and not at other universities like the National University of Science and Technology (Nust).”
However, Tapela said his ministry had given Nust part-payment of the funds owed, which the university took as money for students who had graduated.