In November some 16,000 Government-sponsored University of Dar es Salaam students and most other university undergraduate students were suspended indefinitely following their boycotting of classes in protest against loan fund allocations. They demanded that the government, through the ‘Higher Education Students Loans Board’ give them 100% loans instead of basing the loans they get on the financial status of their families, parents or guardians. The government decided to be tough and the affected universities were then closed. This seemed to exacerbate the situation with opposition parties condemning the government’s actions.
Tony Zakaria, a columnist writing in the government-owned Daily News was not impressed by the behaviour of the students. Extracts: ‘The pictures of students and teachers (also threatening to strike) on TV screens and on newspaper pages in the past few weeks have been colourful to say the least. Students dragging others from buses or classrooms to force them to join the strikes amounts to violence. So does the action of striking teachers throwing chairs at their leaders in a meeting hall…. teachers have been going to school but doing zero teaching in class….. Are they being paid salaries at the end of each month to silently ‘teach’ from their offices? We have seen hordes of pseudo-intellectuals on TV… struggling to juggle TVs, DVD players, impressive music systems and their suitcases large and small, as they scrambled to leave campus after they were booted out…The defiant, fire-breathing future intellectuals have vowed to fight on and strike again upon being reinstated at some unknown future date. You want to know how they spend their money, loaned or otherwise? Visit Mabibo hostel or any other dormitories of these potential future servants of the public. TV antennae growing like a forest of potted plants on windows for all to see. A cacophony of sound that passes for music …. will assail your ears, unless you are deaf to the obvious…. When do they seriously study, these music and vision lovers?’