IN what looks like an act of revenge, Kampala International University (KIU) administration has suspended 19 students apparently for being at the forefront in demanding fair and equal treatment to students and lecturers,at the Gongo la Mboto campus in Dar es Salaam.
Last month, KIU sacked 32 lecturers for the same reason, in defiance of a Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) directive, requiring the higher institution of learning to iron out the on-going misunderstandings amicably.
At the centre of the stand-off is a myriad of challenges facing the institution, ranging from tuition fee which, according to students, are pegged at US dollar, delayed teachers' salaries, random change of lecturers in the middle of academic semester, performing graduation ceremonies in Kampala instead of Dar es Salaam, among others.
The TCU had intervened through a letter with Reference Number TCU/A.40/69/Vol.IV/15 dated December 4, 2012. In an interview, a delegation of eight KIU students told the 'Sunday News' yesterday that while on Christmas holidays, they were called by an administrative officer named Denice Atwijigire to see him.
"When we went to the college, we saw our names on the notice board, showing that we are being suspended and we must collect our letters on Monday (tomorrow)," said one of the students. When the 'Sunday News' called Mr Atwijigire for clarification, he denied having any knowledge about the suspension and even refused to give his employment status at KIU.
"Talk to the principal, I know nothing about the suspension," said Mr Atwijigire. The principal's telephone number went unanswered. On the list of suspended students are Rajab Ahmed, Fatuma Hussein, Karama S. Karama, Mohamed Hydaran and Flavian Karongo.
Others who accompanied their fellow students but are not suspended are: Bwiba Ali, Hilal Shabani and Faridi Faraji. All are in their second year of university studies. The students appealed to higher authorities, particularly Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda to come to their rescue, saying the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training has remained indifferent. "We are a sacrificial lamb.
I believe that we are all innocent and obedient. We are only being victimized for peacefully defending the rights of students," said Flavian Karongo. According to the students, there are 21 burning issues raised during a joint meeting with TCU officials and the university administration in November, last year.
"Nobody is interested in disputes. We went to KIU to study, but we also need to be heard whenever things are not going in the right direction," said Rajab Ahmed. Meanwhile, a parent named Rashid Mselem from Mwanza called the 'Sunday News' and bitterly complained about recent events at KIU. "It's outrageous.
I have to sacrifice the little I earn to raise more than 3m/- for my daughter's studies at KIU and all I hear is this endless wrangle. Who is compensating me for the hard-earned cash?" he asked. However, official documents reveal that TCU has made intervention yet no changes are seen according to interviewed lecturers and students.
In November 14, 2012 TCU formed a probe committee that conducted interviews at KIU for two days. Among other reasons discovered to have been the source of confusion included misrepresentation of students in decision-making.
The Commission also instructed KIU administration to stop forcing students to attend graduation ceremonies in Kampala, Uganda each paying 300,000/- as graduation fee. "Effective end of the academic year 2012/13 graduation ceremonies must be held in Tanzania observing all national procedures," reads part of the report.