Hlotse students to march over embezzled fees

Hlotse students to march over embezzled fees

MASERU – HLOTSE High School students and their parents are up in arms against a former principal whom they accuse of embezzling their exam fees.
The irate parents and students told thepost yesterday that they will stage a protest march at the school tomorrow to demand an explanation from the school board.

The demonstration comes after the Examinations Council of Lesotho (ECOL) announced last week that it would not release the school’s Form C and E results because students owed exam fees.
The school’s results had been already withheld after the ECOL last month said it was investigating a case in which the principal, Moshene Joseph Hlongwane, leaked papers to students.

Furious parents told thepost yesterday that they had receipts showing that they paid examination fees and they did not understand why ECOL said they were still owing fees.
A parent, ’Malimpho Selai, who is a member of a newly formed committee aimed at solving the school’s current problems, said they “think the principal used the exams fee money for his own benefit”.
The committee was formed last Sunday during a crisis meeting.
It is made up of representatives from all stakeholders.

Selai’s child wrote Junior Certificate examinations and is one of the students from the school who did not get their results.
“I paid her examination fee but in one of our meetings we decided to pay again an amount of M300 each so that the results could be released,” Selai said.
Selai said last Thursday parents visited ECOL head office in Maseru as they had lost confidence in the school board, which was not forthcoming with explanations.

She said the ECOL CEO, Dr Litšabako Ntoi, told them that they were not supposed to contribute money as they had paid examination fees but they should do what they are supposed to do as parents.
She said Dr Ntoi told them that they left the person who caused the whole dilemma in Hlotse, referring to the principal who was supposed to have brought the money to ECOL.
“The problem is that the principal does not want to tell the truth of what he has done,” Selai said.

Another committee member, a students’ representative Libuseng Makhanya who wrote the Lesotho General Certificate of Education (LGCE) exams last year, said invigilators told them that one private student was helped to cheat.
“Our invigilator also made it clear that she would report the matter immediately,” Makhanya said.
She said they were interviewed by the police on the matter.

Another LGCE candidate, Sebongile Masielane, said her suspicion is that the principal had cheated on behalf of some students.
“I did not (cheat) but I am also being punished,” Masielane said.
Masielane’s dream to attend school at Lerotholi Polytechnic is now in jeopardy because applications are out but she does not have results.
“I want to know if I have to supplement or repeat or apply for tertiary school,” she said.

Hlongwane told thepost yesterday that in his opinion, the ECOL should feel pity for Hlotse High School students.
He said he always abides and collaborates with investigations to help solve the problem but some people keep on attacking and insulting him.
Hlongwane said he will not dwell much on the matter as it is still under investigation.

“I am willing to help with investigations and I am giving them time,” Hlongwane said.
“I have pain in my heart because students are being punished for no reason here,” he said, adding: “I plead with the ECOL to release results while investigating (the matter).”

The Leribe District Administrator, Moseme Makhele, also said he was pleading with ECOL to release the Hlotse High School Form C and LGCE results.
Earlier this year ECOL withheld the school’s Form C results and is said to have told the school board that it would withhold the Form E results as well.
This also affected private students who wrote at Hlotse High School centre.

This happened after Hlongwane was hauled under investigations for allegedly leaking question papers during last year’s Form C and E examinations.
Hlongwane resigned from the school on January 2 amid pressure from irate school board members and the ECOL officials who quizzed him about the alleged examination fraud.
Countless closed meetings between stakeholders were held in the previous weeks.

Makhele said the purpose of the meetings including the one held last weekend was to find solutions to the problems.
“They said investigations are on-going regarding the JC results but recently the LGCE results are also not out,” Makhele said.
Makhele said he received recent reports that nothing amiss had been found in the JC results but now the problem was the examination fees.
He said even in the LGCE some money was not paid.
Makhele said the LGCE students owe ECOL M5 341.

He said school’s accounts books will be inspected to see what happened as parents had paid the examination fees.
Dr Ntoi said they found out that there were some irregularities over the leaking of exam papers.
“We took the matter to the police and they have started investigating,” Dr Ntoi said.

Dr Ntoi also said they had informed the school since late last year about the shortfall.
“They said they would fix it but to no avail,” she said.
Examination fees are paid from April to May every year prior to the examinations in Lesotho.

Dr Ntoi said after investigations, the matter will be passed on to the courts.
“Where is the money? The ECOL will not take money twice from parents,” she said.
She said Hlotse JC students owe over M47 000.

Nkheli Liphoto

 

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