Following the strike notice by students at the University of Burundi over the stipend loan issue, the Burundian president’s office has urged students to reconsider their plans, the Burundian president’s spokesman said Monday.

“Students should know that the decree establishing the stipend loan as of the next academic year is a result of recommendations of a meeting on education issues held in December 2014. It would be terrible if students decided to go on strike or to take to the streets,” Burundian President’s Spokesman Jean Claude Karerwa said.

According to him, stakeholders in the Burundian education sector recommended, during a meeting held in December 2014, that the stipend should be paid to students as a loan.

“Burundi is a member of the international community. It is also a member of the East African Community (EAC). In Kenya – an EAC member state – for instance, the measure of paying stipend loans to students is into force since 1985. Burundi cannot have policies that are the opposite of other countries’ policies,” Karerwa said.

Karerwa called on students to re-read the content of the decree instead of planning a strike.

Last week on Friday, March 24, students at the University of Burundi wrote to Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, notifying him of a strike that would be staged in case he does not consider “abrogating the decree establishing the stipend loan until April 5.”

In the letter, students complained that “no satisfactory response” was given to them despite a petition sent to President Nkurunziza on Dec. 5, 2016 and a letter sent to the education minister on Nov. 3, 2016 requesting the withdrawal of the draft decree from the table of the Council of Ministers.

Students at the University of Burundi assume that the decree will be followed by “terrible consequences” especially on students from poor families who will face challenges to pay school fees or to get accommodation in the Burundian capital Bujumbura.

They also assume that the new decree establishing the stipend loan will “divide” students and will “tremendously reduce” qualified intellectuals in Burundi.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza promulgated the new decree establishing the stipend loan on Feb. 1, 2017.

Before this new decree, students at the University of Burundi had been receiving the stipend without paying it back. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/