University hostels to open next year

university_of_zimbabweHARARE - State University students hostels will reopen next year after a US$30million cash injection to rehabilitate the Halls of Residence and ease acute accommodation problems for undergraduates. ?

Accommodation at the universities has been a major problem, with students forced to seek lodgings where they have been forced to pay exorbitant rentals, leaving them with little cash to buy books. At the University of Zimbabwe, the countrys biggest high learning institution, residence halls were closed in 2006 because of water shortages and breakdown of seer systems.

The problems were compounded by hyperinflation. Finance minister Tendai Biti, a former student leader, said in his 2011 budget that he was moving to revive infrastructure at all institutions of higher learning. “The infrastructure at our institutions of higher learning are in need of a major facelift and additional facilities in order to create conducive conditions and learning environment, Biti said.

He added: “Therefore we are allocating US$48.8 million which is focusing on the rehabilitation and construction of infrastructure at State Universities and other tertiary institutions. We are also providing the sum of US$30million towards construction of Halls of Residence for all the country’s State universities.”

Biti said he was bankrolling the infrastructure revival project with surplus cash from his 2010 US$2.2billion budget. “And this amount Hon Speaker will actually be released this part of the year from our surplus of 2010. Work can actually begin in the first half of the year .. the construction of these halls of residence.”

Biti’s intervention comes after a shocking report compiled by UZs Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa and Dr Charity Manyeruke, and the Students Solidarity Trust that says desperate female students have been forced into relationships of convenience with gardeners in lieu of accommodation in the ‘boys khaya’.

Some of the students were unfortunate enough to be offered accommodation by a gardener who often compelled them to have sex with him as payment for the accommodation, part of the report reads. ?Biti said the budget would revive the collapsed under-funded State universities.

“Mr Speaker I have to say we will provide US$1million for the procurement of furniture and laboratory equipment to our universities and an amount of US$2 million for the procurement of learning and teaching materials.” Zimbabwe’s economic crisis took its toll on all state universities that have also suffered because of a massive brain drain that has seen some of the countrys best educationists leaving for better paying jobs abroad.

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