OVER 400 Zimbabwean students studying in Algeria on government scholarships are reportedly struggling to make ends meet following their alleged neglect by the State, forcing some to turn to nefarious activities for survival.
In a letter addressed to the government, the stranded students accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of turning a blind eye to their plight.
The students are in Algeria on a twinning arrangement under the bi-lateral presidential scholarship.
“Firstly, we want to take this opportunity to thank the Algerian government for providing tertiary education to international students without any charge. As the community of Zimbabwean students in Algeria, we will maximise usage of this opportunity for the development of our country,” the letter reads.
“This is our last option to write to you, since we have tried to communicate with every responsible office, but no action was taken. To the Algerian government, it has been two years since the responsible ministry sent us stipends so that we could take care of ourselves. Our government promised us $3 000 per year, but they last sent $1 300 in September 2015 up to date.”
The 430 students have been turned into paupers, according to the letter, with one having developed a mental problem.
“The situation is even worse at moment. There are reports of massive depression among students, that is also resulting in some complicated conditions and psychological disturbances. Most of the students are unable to take care of themselves due to background situations like being orphans or having disabled parents,” the students said.
Scholarships minister Christopher Mushowe was not immediately available for comment yesterday.
Acting Information minister Simon Khaya Moyo said his counterpart was aware of the challenges faced by Zimbabwean students
“I think the minister (Mushowe) is aware of the situation and handling it as far as I know. He is on top of the situation regarding that certainly,” Moyo said.
According to the letter, the students have turned to menial jobs for survival.
“We tried by all means to follow the protocol of communication with the responsible Ministry of Scholarships, led by minister Mushohwe, but to no avail,” the students said.
“The situation here is out of control. There are several reports of girls being sexually abused, as they try to find a way to survive. Zimbabwean boys work at industries, where they are paid $4 per day for nine hours and, at times, they are arrested after being perceived as illegal immigrants.
“Some students are abandoning studies, working in construction sites without protective clothing, they also receive ill-treatment and unpaid wages from these construction sites or arrest by police since it’s an illegal act as they are holders of student’s visas without working permits (sic). It seems the government has just dumped students in foreign lands to suffer, rather than study.”