Oktober 1, 2003

Agricultural Students On Strike

The clash between the students of the different campuses of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) on the issue of allowances and stipend is far from over. It was only recently when violence erupted at the main Roma Campus of the NUL when students protested about some irregularities in the disbursement of the tuition fees and stipend. Now, the same incidence has hit the Maseru-based Faculty of Agriculture of the National University of Lesotho.

On Thursday, September 25, 2003, students at the NUL's Faculty of Agriculture, formerly known as the Lesotho Agricultural College (LAC), downed tools and closed down the main gate leading to the Faculty's premises and grounds in protest over the delayed payment of food allowances by the NMDS.

The Faculty of Agriculture Students' Union Chairperson, Refiloe Motsamai said the protesters were students in the Diploma in Agriculture programme who had, at the time of the interview, gone without food allowances since August 2003, the beginning of the 2003 academic year.

Motsamai disclosed that the NMDS initially promised to disburse their food allowances during the week beginning September 22. 2003, but to their surprise, the allowances were only issued to some students in the Degree in Agriculture programme. She pointed out that they resorted to the closure of the main entrance to the Faculty in order to bring their grievances to the attention of the University administration and the NMDS. Attempts by the police to re-open the main gate failed despite several attempts to negotiate with the Student Union. Students were also reported to have clashed with security guards on numerous occasions during the blockade. (The Survivor, Maseru)

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