Riot police officers set upon University of Dodoma students demonstrating yesterday to pressure the government to pay them allowances for practicals. (Photo: Omar Fungo)
Over 500 Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas) students marched to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training protesting against the university’s move to suspend their organisation.
The university management suspended their organisation after their refusal to implement Government Notice no. 178 issued by the education ministry which, they said, had a number of weaknesses.
Muhas spokesperson Amir Madukenya told ‘The Guardian’ that the University council rushed the decision while Tanzania Higher Learning Institution Students Organization (TAHILISO) was in discussion with the education ministry on the possibility of removing some of the sections with weaknesses.
Explaining, Madukenya said the Government Notice required the student’s organisation to be under supervision of Director of Studies (DOS) and the organisation’s president to be known as chairman of students.
“Changing the president’s title to chairman doesn’t give him/her authority,” he said, adding: “We will not allow this because the organisation is there to help students and present their queries to responsible authorities and not to the Director of Studies.”
He said the GN 178 also required that for one to be a student leader he or she must have a GPA of 3.5, a provision which the students felt was not necessary because leadership was a talent and had nothing to do with GPA’s.
Speaking to the students, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Vocation Training, Prof Hamis Dihenga told them that they had written a letter to university management telling them not to implement the notice until it was reviewed by the ministry.
Dihenga promised the students that all their claims would be considered during the review process.
Meanwhile, the Field Force Unit in Dodoma was yesterday forced to use teargas to disperse UDOM students who gathered at Nyerere Square ground in attempts to demonstrate to the National Assembly.
The students from the departments of Science and Linguistics were seeking audience with the Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda and the Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa.
Speaking to this paper, the student’s President, Mwakibinga Philipo said the decision to demonstrate was reached after the government had failed to provide them with funds for practical exercises.
He said on June 6, this year, the university senate had announced that there would be no funding problems for practical studies, adding, however, that the promise had not been honoured, forcing them to seek audience with the Premier and Minister responsible.
Mwakibinga explained that, if the government failed to provide them with the funds, they would pack and go back home instead of staying at the university.
“I wonder why the police have to use so much force to disperse us. The amount of money spent here should have been given to us for the practical exercises”, he noted.
The students gathered again by mid-morning at the same area claiming that Dr Shukuru Kawambwa, the minister for Education and Vocational training was coming to meet them.
Instead of the Minister, Dodoma Regional Commissioner, Dr James Msekela went to the grounds but the students refused to listen to him, shouting instead: “We want to see the Premier and not you”.
During the fracas police apprehended 20 students including their President, Mwakibinga Philipo.