Battle looms at Lerotholi Polytechnic

Battle looms at Lerotholi Polytechnic

MASERU – A battle looms at Lerotholi Polytechnic College. And for the first time it’s not about the usual combustive issues of salaries, working conditions or allowances. The clash is over standards, the issue that goes to the core of the college’s integrity as a school.
The fiasco started last week when the Senate announced new examination marking rules which lecturers said are meant to lower standards.
The lecturers fear the new regulations will turn the college into a ‘mushroom institute’ whose students have no chance of success in the industry or at other institutions of higher learning.

The Lerotholi Polytechnic Teaching and Non-Teaching Staff Union (LPTANSU) is now threatening to strike unless the new rules are reversed.
The union this week petitioned the Acting Rector, Dr ’Mamokheseng Mpooa, giving her until Tuesday to respond to their concerns.
Top on the list of their concerns is the rule that says a student can proceed to study a subject even after failing its prerequisite course. The union said this amounts to pushing ill-equipped students through programmes.

The union is also against the Senate’s move to reduce the qualification mark for a student to write an examination from 40 percent to 30 percent.
It said this will make it tough for a student to pass because it means those who have a course work mark of 30 percent will have to score at least 70 percent in the final examination.

The union is hostile to the rule that says students who have failed courses can write special examinations without attending classes.
LPTANSU said it believes this idea is absurd because it assumes that a student can pass a test they initially failed without going through the teaching process.

“If the student failed a course the first time even after attending its classes we don’t see how they will pass that subject without attending classes. It doesn’t make sense at all,” said LPTANSU president, Mokili Talanyane.
“We don’t see the logic of such a decision.”

LPTANSU is also vehemently opposed to the rule that says a student will go to the next level as long as they have a combined mark of 50 percent (Course work and final examination) even after failing the final examination.

This, the union said, makes a mockery of the final examinations and does not adequately assess the student’s performance.
The union said the rules were changed without consulting stakeholders like students, lecturers and the Council on Higher Education (CHE), the authority in charge of assessing standards in tertiary institutions.

On Tuesday, Talanyane told a press conference that the new rules “have serious implications on the quality of products, our students”.
And in the petition the union told Mpooa to “revisit and reverse” the decision and take time to understand the college’s regulations.
“You are also urged to work in harmony with Lerotholi Polytechnic staff in the matters affecting them directly,” the petition said.

“Strongly advise the Senate to abide by and adhere to the rules and regulations that govern Lerotholi Polytechnic as an institution of higher learning.”
The circular from the Senate said these changes are provisional exemptions that will be analysed and evaluated at the end of the academic year 2017/2018.

The union’s position is however getting stiff resistance from the students who believe the new rules are in their favour.
The Students’ Representative Council president Motlatsi ’Mefane said by fighting the rules the union is targeting the students.
“We were always told that before the decision of Senate to change the entry requirement, 40 percent was the entry requirement and within the 40 percent was 30 percent theory and 10 percent labs,” ’Mefane said.

“Now the school does not have labs, we do not have equipment in the labs and therefore the labs do not exist. Why then is the 30 percent requirement wrong?” he said.

’Mefane said although Senate has decided to give a 30 percent entry requirement they want a different system in marking.
“We want combined results. This is when our overall semester coursework annually is added and divided by two and our exam results are added and divided by two then the addition of the results are added together to determine the last mark,” he said.

But LPTANSU spokesman, Motloli Masienyane, said the union is not against the students. The union, he said, wants a broad consultation before such “drastic decisions” are made.

“A good decision will only be taken when all stakeholders are involved,” Masienyane said. “We are not for or against any conclusion in terms of marking when it is done in the right way,” he said. The management is expected to respond today.

Rose Moremoholo

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