Fort Hare Uni under pressure over axed Zim schoolarship students

fort_hare_uniSouth Africas Fort Hare University (Pictured) is under growing pressure to intervene in a row over the Zimbabwean Presidential Scholarship program, that has stopped funding 12 students, for alleged political activity. The programme meant for under-privileged students is funding around 750 students at the university but ZANU PF functionaries are now abusing it to

This week Fort Hare Vice Chancellor Dr Tom Mvuyo tried to distance the university from the problem, saying they were not a party to the scholarship agreement between the Zimbabwean government and the scholarship holders. As with any other similar funding arrangement, the terms are a matter between the government and the students. He was also eager to emphasize that they had not expelled the students but had asked them to contact them to discuss alternative payment arrangements.

Sibanengi Dube, the MDC SA spokesman, said they have been assured by the Vice Chancellor that no student has been expelled so far. He said even those who had left campus, on the basis of the letters that had informed them that scholarships had been withdrawn, have been asked to come back. With end of semester exams under way the students have also been allowed to sit for them. It was not clear if this is a temporary truce on the back of intense media coverage of the story, but Mvuyo is also said to have disowned all the statements issued by the university spokesman, confirming the axing of the students from the programme.

The story has generated outrage on the basis that a reputable South African University could allow under-privileged students to be victimized on the basis of political affiliation. To make matters worse the university spokesman had issued a statement claiming the scholarship programme specifically barred political activity and this condition, among others, is a cornerstone of the programme since 1995 when it began at the university, and it has been emphasized to new and old students to maintain cohesion and oneness among beneficiaries and to protect the image and integrity of our institution.

Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) says only 139 000 out of 380 000 students have registered for this years O and A level exams. With fees pegged at US$10 and US$20 per subject, depending on the level, most parents have failed to pay for their children. Education Minister David Coltart said his ministry was working on ensuing that those who had failed to raise the fees would be able to sit for them and pay later.

ZIMSEC on the other hand is saying this is creating a logistical nightmare for them. The body tasked with running exams says they dont know how many question papers to print and send to the exam centres. Last month the deadline for registration was changed to Friday the 16th October and ZIMSEC say the extension has created the current logistical chaos. Its not clear when the exams themselves will be written.

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