Government-sponsored students at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) are facing financial constraints after spending up to two months without receiving their bursaries which they are entitled every month.
The Rwf 25,000 which is given to every student by the Students Financing Agency (SFAR) in all public universities in the country covers accommodation, feeding and facilitation expenses.
KIST which has a population of over 2600 students and the campus hostels can accommodate only 200. The rest reside outside the campus and are the ones facing big challenges with accommodation arrears.
Speaking to The New Times, students expressed concern over the delayed money which is supposed to facilitate them in their studies saying that it is making their stay at school difficult.
“It is a difficult situation here especially for those of us who live outside campus. Our landlords are on our necks and we are facing lots of problems,” lamented Bosco Nkurunziza a student at the institute.
“We are being kept in the dark, we don’t know why we haven’t received the money yet our fellow students in other universities have already received theirs,” said another student.
In a phone interview, SFAR director Emanuel Muvunyi said they (SFAR) had disbursed the money for January and February to KIST like they have done to all the other institutions.
“We are now preparing the cheque for March, so if the students have not yet received the money, it must be an administrative problem,” stated Muvunyi.
In an interview, the Guild President of KIST, Martin Ruvugabigwi said that the change in the payment system has caused the delay.
“Students have been receiving the money at school, but under the new system, payments will be made on the student’s bank account in Bank of Kigali (BK),” he explained.
He attributed the change in the system to cases of theft, where some students claimed that their money was being signed for by other students.
“Whenever you are starting something new, you meet a number of challenges, and on top of that, it is not easy to open accounts for over 2600 students,” he stressed. However, some students don’t agree with that argument.
“That is not true, you cannot tell me that opening bank accounts for the students can take you all that period,” protested another student who preferred not to be named for personal reasons.
When contacted, KIST’s Vice Rector for Finance and Administration (VRAF) Thomas Gatabazi, also concurred with the Guild president saying that the opening of the accounts had caused the delay.
“It is because we have been experiencing the problem of some students who have been reluctant to open bank accounts,” said Gatabazi.
He also added that “You cannot force a horse to drink water. The more they delay to open their accounts, the more the money delays,” he added.
The guild president however said that the problem had been solved and that the money is expected to have reached the beneficiaries by next week.