NHTC shut down after protests

NHTC shut down after protests

MASERU – THE National Health Training College (NHTC) has been closed after students went on strike over a staggering 136 percent fee increase.
The students said they were not consulted when the fees were reviewed. Tuition fee has increased from M4 700 to M10 000.
The students will now have to pay an additional M12 100 for meals. Boarding and lodging fees went up from M2 475 to M5 000.
These changes have pushed the total annual fees from M13 178 to M31 100, which is beyond the reach of many students.

Those sponsored by the government fret that the new fees will burden them with debt. The NHTC management refused to comment when contacted this week.
The Health Ministry’s chief spokesman Tumisang Mokoai said the strike could be a result of miscommunication especially on the cost of meals.
‘‘The main problem was how the information of the increment of the fee structure was disseminated and the time-frame,’’ he said.
He said the students felt that what should have happened was to ‘‘be informed earlier as there are those students who stay around campus and those living outside — they should come knowing and prepared for the changes.’’

‘‘However, I would not say it is a mistake on the management’s side as they wanted every student as he/she came on his own to have a copy and not hear from the SRC, which will then inform students generally. “Students did not like that.’’

He added that students also complained that ever since they ate at school, they never paid for food and ‘‘they are surprised about a certain amount of money they have to pay for food on the new structure,’’ he further said.

He also stated that these changes do occur at any institution, it is just that students did not accept them because of how they got the message.
‘‘It is unfortunate that we delayed to inform them about the changes. And I do believe it is our fault on how they got the message.
“They were also curious as to why the fee for books was still the same as that of the previous years yet others increased,” Mokoai said.
He mentioned that they had a meeting after realising the issue.

‘‘We went there along with the Ministry’s Principal Secretary to hear both sides — students and management.’’
Like any other institution, the NHTC does have SRC.
‘‘However, the NHTC SRC gave up and resigned, afraid of being yelled at by their fellows and after their resignation, students elected the interim SRC and we are still discussing the matter with them.’’

He said the interim SRC visited the Ministry which asked them to write their complaints ‘‘so that where we are going to talk on their behalf, we will have something tangible.’’
On Monday, the SRC held a meeting which revealed that the students were divided on the course of action. Others said that they were not going to school while others wanted to proceed with classes.

Mokoai said he would not say a fight ensued because he was not there. He however said he had gathered there “was a big problem which could endanger lives”.
‘‘That was when the management saw it wise to write a letter to the ministry asking for permission to close the school for a while so as to deal with the matter and protect the lives of students and they were granted permission on that basis,” he said. He also said they are working with all stakeholders to resolve the issue. ‘‘And judging from how things are working out, we will be done before the end of two weeks,’’ he stated.

‘Mapule Motsopa

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