A TOP government official told Parliament yesterday that several Zimbabwean cadet students in Russia had been kicked out of their halls of residence and were sleeping at railway stations over unpaid debts.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
Secretary for Higher and Tertiary Education Washington Mbizvo said Zimbabwean students in Cuba and Algeria were also in dire straits as the ministry’s budgetary allocation was no longer sufficient to cater for them.
Mbizvo told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education chaired by Chinhoyi MP Peter Mataruse (MDC-T) that government had dismally failed to cater for the cadetship programme which has a debt of $62 630 345 accrued from previous years.
He said the programme had been allocated a paltry $8 million in the 2014 National Budget.
“Those countries (Russia, Cuba and Algeria) pay fees and we are asked to send little amounts as stipends for those children to the tune of $3 000 to $4 500 each per year, but sometimes we fail to do so and we sent only $500 each for two years,” Mbizo said.
“At the end, the Zimbabwean Ambassador in Russia Boniface Guva Britto Chidyausiku had to write to us saying our children have been chucked out of hostels and were sleeping at rail stations in Russia.”
Mbizvo added: “We were only given $54 000 last year to be able to pay for the kids in Russia because the ambassador was complaining saying things had become difficult. Those kids who had parents with money were in a better situation. I wish the committee could speak for us in terms of the crisis in the scholarship programme. We wanted $2 million for those students in the three countries but we only got $54 000 which only catered for students in Russia.”
He said students on local cadetship were also facing similar problems, forcing some to resort to prostitution as they could not afford about $1 500 required for fees, accommodation, food and other expenses per semester.