MASERU — The National Health Training College (NHTC) was on Tuesday closed indefinitely following a strike by students.
Armed police officers on Tuesday dispersed striking NHTC students at the college’s premises.
When this paper visited the college on Tuesday afternoon students were seen leaving the premises carrying luggage and books.
Students bunked classes on Tuesday morning and held a march just outside the campus singing protest songs.
Top of their grievances is that the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) has delayed the disbursement of book allowances for more than half of the students.
Students who spoke on condition of anonymity said they had not received their M3 000 book allowances since they signed their contracts in August.
They said they were about to come to the end of the first semester without books.
They said several attempts to get the NMDS to process the monies with haste were fruitless. “We have communicated with the NMDS on several occasions to give us the money.
“Sometimes our representatives were sent back because there was no one to help them,” said a student who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation.
The students said they have been struggling to do school work without textbooks.
“We have had to borrow books from those who have them. Sometimes they cannot lend us books as they also need to use them.
“It meant we had to wait until they were done for us to do our assignments. We worked under pressure to complete assignments due to tight deadlines,” the student said.
He said about two days ago they were told to write a letter to the NMDS to explain their concerns so that they could be addressed.
“The letter was written immediately after the meeting.
“But there has not been any response to date. We are still waiting to hear from NMDS,” he said.
The students also said they went on strike to put pressure on the management of the college to attend to water problems that have been going on for over a month at the new dormitories.
The dormitories were only opened for students’ occupation in August but students say they have to draw water in buckets from the older dormitories which are a walking distance away. They said even though it may not be far, going back and forth drawing water eats into their study time.
“We do not have time to move between our rooms to the old dormitories to get water. We did not sign up for this.
“We have asked the management to sort the problem out,” she said.
However, the information officer in the Ministry of Health, ’Mateboho Mosebekoa, said the students were sent home over fears they could vandalise school property.
“The strike was becoming violent so it was decided that they be sent home while their concerns are being addressed,” Mosebekoa said.
She stressed that the situation at the school will not affect plans for a graduation ceremony to be held tomorrow.
“The graduation is going on as planned,” she said. The Director-General NHTC, Dr Shahida Tarr, said the management was already in the process of solving the students’ concerns when the demonstrations occurred.
Tarr said the students were involved in a demonstration complaining of delays in payments of their allowances from NMDS.