UDSM students strike over `elusive` board loans

Univarsity of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) students staged a strike yesterday to pressure the Higher Education Student Loans (HESLB) Board to pay their meal and accommodation allowances.

The university compound turned into a battle ground after armed members anti-riot police used tear gas canisters to disperse aggrieved students, who were chanting slogans and carrying placards.

The fracas started in the morning when some students started mobilising others for demonstration, defying a warning issued by the university administration against the strike.

The weakly organised protestation did not last long because the anti-riot cordoned off the march as the students were trying to move out of the campus to the city centre.

Some of the interviewed students said most of them have been living in difficult conditions after the loan board failed to issue the money for meals and accommodations.

“Because of the hardships, some of us have decided to abandon studies,” said one university student.

Ambrose Evarist, a Bachelor of Commerce student, said the government has failed to issue loans in the 2011/12 academic year because of corrupt practices by some of its officials.

At least 37, 000 students applied for loans this year of which only 25, 000 were granted. About 11,000 students have been going without loans from the board.
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