Students in Zambia's public universities urged to be calm over gov't plans to scrap meal allowances

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-24 22:23:49|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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LUSAKA, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- A union representing students in Zambia's public universities on Monday urged the students to be calm and not to cause anarchy following reports that the government intends to scrap meal allowances next year.

There is growing anxiety among students from public universities following reports attributed to Higher Education Minister Nkandu Luo that the meal allowances will be scrapped from next January.

Misheck Kakonde, president of the Zambia National Students Union, called on the student population to be calm as the union has opened what was described a fruitful dialogue with the authorities over the matter.

He said the union wants to get a clear position on the matter from the authorities on whether the reports were correct or not.

"We are not aware of any regulations or statutory instrument that could have been issued to abolish the provision of meal allowances, as yet," he said in a press release. "The report must not raise any unnecessary anxiety among students."

He said government delays to meet its obligations in paying allowances, which are part of the students' loan and grant agreement, must not become an excuse for students to cause unrest or damage to public property.

Delayed meal allowances caused student unrest in Zambia's public universities in the past.

Last week, students at a university in Kitwe, in Copperbelt Province, protested over delayed payment of the allowances, caused damage to some vehicles.

In October, a student at the University of Zambia, in Lusaka, the country's capital, died due to suffocation when police fired teargas in student hostels to quell riots over meal allowances.