MASERU — Parents should seriously consider contributing towards their children’s education as the government can no longer
afford to go it alone, Finance Minister Timothy Thahane said yesterday.
The National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) was allocated M713.1 million for this period, the same as last year.
Thahane said that government could no longer afford to sponsor more students and parents should now consider paying part of their children’s fees.
“In recent years, more students than government can afford to sponsor have passed and were admitted to universities in the priority fields of studies,” he said.
Consequently, a large number of qualified students had not been sponsored.
“In the coming year, government and parents must engage in serious debates on whether or not parents should contribute something towards the education of their children, except for orphans and those who are indigent. This is a challenge that we must face,” Thahane said.
However the move to maintain the budget allocation for the secretariat sparked complaints from the public yesterday.
They said failure by the government to increase funding to NMDS showed that it did not take the education sector seriously.
Sofonea Shale, a political analyst, said that this could be a sign that government is battling to sustain the NMDS.
“This is a clear message that government now finds it hard to sustain the bursary fund. The unchanged budget allocation for NMDS is going to hurt many students because fewer are going to secure sponsorship,” Shale said.
The youth league president of the Lesotho People Congress (LPC) party, Bokang Ramatšella, said the unimproved budget allocation for NMDS had raised concern that government is not giving tertiary education the attention it deserves.
“Government is not giving full commitment to tertiary education like it does to primary education.
“We were hoping that after government announced plans to cut on the number of students it sponsors there would be some improvements in funding but there is none,” Ramatšella said.
Last year the government reduced the number of tertiary students who receive sponsorship saying the NMDS coffers were depleted because beneficiaries were not paying back their debts.