8 February 2013

Rwanda: MPs - Scrap Tuition for FARG Students Repeating Courses

Legislators have urged universities to stop charging tuition fees for rebounding Genocide survivors in case the failure was due to genuine hardships.

The lawmakers were, on Tuesday, debating a Bill seeking amendments to the law regulating the Fund for support of Genocide Survivors (FARG).

The Bill was tabled by Dr Alvera Mukabaramba, the State minister in-charge of Social Affairs in the Ministry of Local Government.

Like other lawmakers, MP Libératha Mukarindiro told the House that there are instances where students who passed Senior Six fairly well and obtained government scholarships in universities are in difficulty because they had to repeat for various reasons.

"When a student fails in these universities and repeats, they pay for themselves yet you find that the money is a lot, about Rwf50,000," Mukarindiro said. "What happens when this prevails?

Dr Mukabaramba reminded the lawmakers that there is a policy that students who repeat, must pay for themselves.

"We should ascertain why the students fail. If one had a justifiable reason that caused their failure, such as sickness, things could be re-examined," she said.

MP Euthalie Nyirabega put the minister to task over issues of lack of clarity that she said have often caused confusion. For instance, the Bill states that the fund is for supporting survivors, yet it stressed "needy survivors".

"In the definition of terms, clarity is not given on who the needy survivors really means. I think this is causing confusion," Nyirabega said.

In response, Dr Mukabaramba said there are "clear" ministerial directives on how needy survivors are handled.

"But if things are not clear enough, we shall rectify them at committee level. Not all concerning such criteria can go into law, but most will appear in the directive," she said.

Reason to repeal law

As per Article 12 (Transitional Provision) of the 2009 organic law establishing general provisions governing public institutions, all laws governing public institutions that are in force shall be in conformity with the Organic Law in a period not exceeding one year.

The new Bill will repeal the 2008 law establishing the Fund, so as to comply with this requirement.

According to Dr Mukabaramba, some clauses in the current law were reviewed, including one which stipulates that FARG's sources of income include the TIG programme where people found guilty of participating in the Genocide serve all or part of their sentences doing community service.

She added that in the past years, no funds have come from TIG.

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