Students up in arms over college’s accreditation

Students up in arms over college’s accreditation

Senate Sekotlo

MASERU – WHEN Sehlabaka Motebang enrolled for an Information Technology (IT) programme at the Catholic Comprehensive Community College in 2013, he was elated.

His hope was that he would get a qualification that would enable him to look for a job even outside the country where IT skills are in high demand.

But after he graduated in 2015, that dream soon turned into a nightmare.

Motebang says he was shocked after the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) told him that his diploma was useless because the college, formerly known as the Technical School of Leribe, was not accredited.

Motebang, told thepost that with SAQA not recognising the school and its IT programme, students have no chance of furthering their studies or finding jobs in South Africa.

Also, other colleges in Lesotho or firms that rely on SAQA accreditation to admit students or recruit employees will not consider graduates from the Catholic Comprehensive Community College.

“I was always worried because ever since I graduated last year, I didn’t qualify for any job and there were no graduations for 2015 at the school,” Motebang says.

“We collected our certificates at the office. As worried as I was, I did meet with the principal for clarification on accreditation of the school and he told me that the accreditation was in progress.”

“I went to him several times but he ended up threatening to suspend me,” he says.

Motebang, 32, says he spent over M2 100 over three years in tutorials and rental fees but to his shock the educational qualification he got will be useless to him.

He says at one point, an international finance organisation “was funding the school but withdrew its funds out of the blue”.

“I was scared to ask the principal why (the organisation) withdrew its funds because I was threatened with expulsion,” he says.

Thabiso Lesenyeho, a former student, says he became suspicious of the programme after assessing the quality of the lectures.

“The quality of education in this institution is not satisfying. I personally went to the principal who threatened me with immediate expulsion as he did with my other worried classmates,” Lesenyeho says.

“After an evaluation in South Africa I wanted to consult the principal but I was afraid of him and I refrained,” he says.

The Council of Higher Education (CHE)’s Principal Quality Assurance Officer, ’Maseithleko Maima, told thepost that the school is recognised but “what is left is improvement of relationship with SAQA for evaluations”.

“Although it’s not our responsibility, we need to help students by making SAQA and the country at large aware of the school,” Maima says.

“The Technical Vocation and Training under the Ministry of Education have to deal with this issue,” she says.

“SAQA has been given a list of almost every higher education institution in the country. The assumption is that SAQA wasn’t made aware of this college,” she says.

The Catholic Comprehensive Community College does not appear under SAQA’s foreign qualifications evaluation and advisory services.

The college is not recognised as a part of the national education and training system of Lesotho.

As a result of that, SAQA does not recognise the qualifications and therefore cannot evaluate its certificates.

In a letter SAQA wrote to one of the students who asked to remain anonymous, it provided for the right to appeal the decision not to recognise the college within 60 days.

The school declined to comment but referred thepost to the Catholic Schools Secretariat.

The secretary for Catholic Schools, Teboho Tolo, said he was “not even aware of the allegations against the college”.

“This issue (has been taken) out of context and is aimed at confusing and damaging the school’s reputation,” Tolo says.

“The issue of accreditation has been long done since 1978.”

He denies that the school authorities threatened students with suspension or expulsion for enquiring about accreditation issues.

“There is no way we can expel students (over that),” Tolo says.

“We did write to SAQA, that we changed the name of the school from the Technical School of Leribe to the Catholic Comprehensive Community College,” Tolo says.

SAQA is a South African statutory body regulated in terms of the National Qualifications Framework Act.

It is made up of 29 members appointed by the Minister of Education in consultation with the Minister of Labour.

SAQA is mandated by legislation to oversee the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

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