Muckraker : Fokol at Fokothi

Muckraker : Fokol at Fokothi

MUCKRAKER has never been fond of clichés. They are the epitome of lazy writing fuelled by abject lack of originality.
They are as pretentious as they are dreary. They are vile things that sabotage good writing while pretending to add meaning to what is usually just empty syntax meant to hide a dearth of substance.

They are like those little irritants called semicolons whose only purpose is to prove to the unsuspecting reader that the writer passed through a university. Ignore them and you might just save the reader from insanity. Use them and you might send the reader to the nearest madhouse. The choice to add and subtract foolishness from this world is yours.

The only purpose of clichés is to show that you were paying attention in Standard Three. Yet there are times when they come in handy especially when circumstances are screaming for them.

Like now as Muckraker ponders the ruckus over the new marking system introduced at Lerotholi Polytechnic.
‘Wonders shall never cease’, is the cliché Muckraker shall plonk here to describe the tomfoolery about the college that gives us motor mechanics and plumbers.

There was a time when Fokothi produced decent hands that could hold their own. Back then South African companies would stream into Lesotho to hire our electricians, technicians, mechanics and plumbers.

Fokothi wasn’t fantastic or exceptional. It just did a decent job of putting something into empty heads. Students did not leave the college full but they were not empty either.

They were good enough to be left alone with machines without fearing that they might burn themselves, others or the whole company.
The plumbers could move dung and electricians knew positive from negative. Mechanics could change brake pads and make indicators work. Those were the days.

Not of glorious but just average products. We could work with that.
There was a modicum of responsibility and respectability. You could wear that blue overall without worrying that someone might slap you on the streets.

Among the slow ones you could even add some spring in your step.
Had Fokothi continued on that path it could have transformed into a technical university by now.
But then along the way came the germs that cause mediocrity. We ignored them when they started creeping through the fence and marching to the classes.

Soon they had camped in the heads of students, lecturers and management.
Still we thought they were far from causing a pandemic.

Muckraker was one of those who naively thought the bouts of mediocrity were a passing phase. We thought this was a cold that could be threatened with warm water, some honey, lemon and a blanket. We were wrong and horribly so.

The germs had laid eggs and were looking for new heads to infect with terminal mediocrity, a disease that ails most African institutions especially those that have government fingerprints on them.

This week we have discovered, perhaps too late to effect any redemption, that the germs have now claimed land rights in the minds of these who sit in the college’s Senate.

The signs that their minds are captured by those little creatures are there for all to see.
The symptoms show in the circular the Senate issued recently to announce that it was changing the examination marking system.
No reasons are given for the changes because doing so will drown the whole college in a sea of ridicule.
And none of the Senate members want that because even when the college is stinking compost they still want to sustain the facade that it’s still relevant in the country.

The smokescreen that Fokothi still matters has to be maintained to keep public funds flowing through that gate.
But Muckraker is not colour blind. She knows tosh when she sees it. The ruse behind the new rules glows even in a pitch black winter night.
Muckraker knows the hoax behind this card trick. The Senate simply wants to turn the college into a school of magic. It wants students to learn to duck anything that involves thinking and hard work. And the only way to do that is to take the standards down to the gutter.

The sole purpose of the endeavour is to make sure students magically make it out of the college without being scathed by books.
School, so goes the dubious reasoning, should not be tough when you can print certificates. Make no mistake about what is happening here.
The Senate is on to something stupendously innovative. It’s dark but still doubly creative.

A marvellous moment of genius has gripped its members. If the students are struggling then just bring the standards down to their level.
If the students won’t come up to the standards then just bring the damn standards down to them. It’s called aligning. They are matching standards to the products instead of the other way round.

Kicking the can down the road is our new way of dealing with problems. The college is producing ramshackle students it hopes will be panel beaten when they get to the industry.
The students know what this means but they don’t care about the implications.

To them, tomorrow is another day. What matters is the certificate and not the skill. There will be new tricks to new problems tomorrow.
Yet this trend should not startle us, for it is happening at all levels in our education system. If standards have not been allowed to slide they have been molested to meet the new levels of ineptness. Nyoe, nyoe, nyoe, English Medium schools. My foot!

Nyoe, nyoe, nyoe you don’t need English to get into a university. Holy dung! Blah, blah, blah, Mathematics is not necessary. ‘D’ is enough to get you into a college.
Someone pass me a hankie please. Soon the country will be teeming with a generation of dunderheads. And we are killing education which is the only referral hospital for such.

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