Higher education is suffering in Burundi as in many other countries in the world. In this east African country, the living conditions of student interns are said to be increasingly deteriorating.
Beneficiaries of the loan-grant equivalent to 2,160,000 Burundian Francs during the 1st university cycle, students in terminal classes and candidates for the Baccalaureate are now finding it difficult to live their internship period. The cause is the abolition of their internship fees which previously were granted to their elders, them, beneficiaries of a non-refundable grant.
Of a different amount depending on whether a student lives in town or in a rural area, depending on whether he lives far or near the University, these fees helped the students to cover their needs during the internships. The absence of this financial aid has negative consequences for education.
Those concerned are the students of the University of Burundi and the Ecole Normale Supérieure. This nightmare was felt for the first time by the students of the 2019-2020 academic year, who carried out their internships in October for all these two institutions.
5 months later, I remember what happened before and during the internships . Complaints were heard here and there among the students without knowing which way to turn. “ Internship fees no longer exist “. This is the answer that class delegates gave us when we asked them to go and submit the question to our managers, heads of sections, since August 2020.
Apart from that, the clarifications from the Office of Scholarships and Internships made us lose hope in relation to the newly established government by His Excellency Evariste Ndayishimiye. Apparently, we were deprived of what our elders had enjoyed without a convincing reason.
“ When you sign a contract with someone, what is not there does not exist . In the contract relating to the loan-grant which binds the student to the government, no article grants the students the expenses of internship “. To this end, we read in the columns of Jimbere Magazine : “ what made us grant them a higher scholarship than the scholarship we gave previously, was to encourage them to make savings that will help them to do the internships as well. . ”
Responses which, on the other hand, for me, are not right to exist, especially when we have not, until now, shown the students a presidential decree or a ministerial decree on the abolition of fees for internships. end of study. An opinion that I share with Didier (pseudo), a student at the University of Burundi. ” Is there an article in the contract of the said loan-grant that stipulates that the loan-grant waives the internship costs? At the University of Burundi, what is spread orally has no consideration. There must be a ministerial or presidential ordinance abolishing the first“, he asks himself.
In my humble opinion, just taking out a prescription alone is not enough. We must take into account the condition experienced by the students, no more improved than that of previous years. In addition, considering objective 4 of sustainable development which aims to “ensure access for all to quality education on an equal basis, and promote lifelong learning opportunities”, those responsible at various levels must find a rapid solution to this situation which only worsens the quality of education in Burundi.
A thorn in the wound
Let’s face it. The more days go by, the more expensive life is in Burundi . And I as a student, loan-holder, trainee of the 3rd bac who was not born into a wealthy family, I was no exception at all from those who live this no less expensive life in Bujumbura. Like so many others who were not born in Bujumbura, I had to pay monthly rent, water and electricity. I had to get dressed, eat, photocopy a syllabus, get treatment and so on. All this with a loan of less than 60,000 Burundian Francs that I received late after deducting account maintenance fees and those of the mutual card.
Obviously, the needs were so enormous that, I, the student, I could forget the lunch, the meal sufficient in quantity as well as in quality and the displacement even when I felt very weak.
If I managed to live in this loan-purse during the lessons, the same loan was not enough to serve me during the internship. Indeed, the activities were more and more numerous and the internships were done, for the most part, far from our universities and our residences. The needs are also not the same. Hence the need for the per diem, whatever it is, so that the courses take place without hindrance.
Cry of the heart
The internship period arrived when the granting of the second tranche of the loan-grant for third-year students had taken place two months before. I had no silver coins left in my pocket. Unfortunately, I got up at 4 a.m. to prepare for the lessons I was giving from 7:30 a.m.
The path to the place of my internship from my home was more than 90 minutes on foot. To do this, I had to take a bus or a bicycle to get to school on time.
I leave aside my comrades who were inside the country. Likewise, the intern that I was doing required me to teach 10 hours a week. Also unfortunately, I fell into a class subdivided into A, B and C where I taught 5 hours per week in each class. Or 15 hours per week.
Also, there was the period in which I was teaching 6 hours a day when I left my home without eating anything. Hence the difficulties of keeping myself in class caused by hunger, thirst, fatigue due to poverty. These working conditions are not without consequences on the quality of our performance as trainees and therefore on the quality of education for the benefit of learners.
In addition, the trainee must wear good attire in front of his learners. He must make available a lot of educational documents to make himself understood by his internship supervisor and his learners. Indeed, he must come to class with a lesson well prepared on sheets of paper forming A4, with a diary notebook, a subject forecast notebook,
A notebook, a point notebook and an evaluation notebook. It should not be ignored that it may come across an establishment where there is little or no teaching material (pupil’s manual, teacher’s guide, machine-computers for those in the IT section, etc.). All this, he takes care of it and it often requires financial resources.
To conclude, it turns out that the last two installments of loan-grant, which would help the students to survive after the internships and during the completion of their studies as during the writing of the internship report, its printing and its binding, without also forget the exams, are used for the repayment of debts already taken during these courses due to the lack of expenses dedicated to this activity. This makes the life of these students deplorable, unfair and worrying during internships and afterwards on their campuses and negatively impacts the quality of the education promised to them. That the Burundian government, Reta Mvyeyi Reta Nkozi as nicknamed by His Excellency Evariste Ndayishimiye intervene to save his children.
By Dieudonné Ndayizeye