Turning dreams into reality

Turning dreams into reality

BUTHA-BUTHE – FOR three years, Nthatisi Moremoholo spent sleepless nights studying for a diploma in Emergency Care at the Eagle Ambulance College. It is all turning into a nightmare.
Like many school leavers in Lesotho, she cannot find a job. But her woes are worsened by the questionable status of the college she attended.
Many employers gaze at her in shock whenever she produces her certificates.

They say they have never heard of such an institution – never mind that she paid a substantial amount to the college, whose registration status is now under scrutiny.
Moremoholo says she enrolled with the college, located in Butha-Buthe between 2012 and 2015 in hopes that upgrading her education would help her land a better life.
Higher education authorities tell thepost the college’s curriculum is substandard and “by far disappointing”.

For Moremoholo and other former students, all those years of burning the midnight candle to study and money paid as fees have gone to waste
As a student, Moremoholo and her peers had doubts about the credibility of the college. She says failure to hold any graduation ceremonies for previous classes had been one of the issues that drove them to raise the red flag about the college’s registration status. Further, her predecessors complained about trouble finding jobs after finishing their courses at the college.

‘‘We raised our concerns with the founder of the college and this developed into a chaos. Following the chaos, we were only given copies of the certificates,” she says.
Prospective employers tell her they have never heard of the college while others say they doubt the integrity and authenticity of certificates issued out by the college.
Every time the former students try to raise the issue with the college founder, they are simply dismissed as being too lazy to look for work.
Molulela Sefeane, one of the college’s lecturers, says the school was established by her mother, ‘Mapalesa Sefeane, in 2008.

She says the school has about five lecturers, although she could not provide student enrolment figures “as the number keeps on fluctuating.”
According to Sefeane, the college focuses on medical first aid training.

“Its vision is to help learners achieve their full potential through quality education, training and recognition of higher learning,” Sefeane says, adding students typically spend two years studying before going out for internship during the third.

Sefeane attributes failure to hold graduation ceremonies to “some hiccups with the government” but insists the college offers quality training, claiming trained pharmacists and assistant doctors are part of the academic staff. Pressed to comment on the registration status and legality of the college, Sefeane tells thepost she cannot comment but alludes to “negotiations with the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET)” being underway.

She is however happy to talk about plans to hold the college’s first ever graduation ceremony that will include former students such as Moremoholo.
For Moremoholo, that is hardly exciting news. For now, she has to count the cost, not least over M20, 000 used in fees and other expenses.
According to Moremoholo, the college charged M7, 000 per year for first and second year students. Final year students paid M6, 000 minus a book fee of M350 to M400.
The fees have since been increased this year, claimed Moremoholo.

Higher education authorities at the Council of Higher Education (CHE) say the college is of a dubious reputation, having failed to pass the test when the regulatory authority assessed its Emergency Care programme in 2016.

CHE director, Associate Professor Mokaeane Polaki, described the assessment feedback as “negative” but refused to divulge more details citing confidentiality of assessment results.
Associate Prof Mokaeane says after assessing the programme, the authority compiled a report for the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET).
He says the law stipulates that the higher education regulatory body can either recommend actions for the minister to take or just hand over a report without any recommendations, leaving the ministry to decide.

Ministry of Education and Training director, Thae Makhele, says the college unsuccessfully applied for registration in 2010.
“They were not accredited due to negative results of the key assessments obtained concerning curriculum, facilities and teaching staff,” Makhele says.
Makhele says the ministry collaborated with the Ministry of Health (MoH) during the assessment.

“Quoting the report compiled by experts, results revealed that the quality and standard of this curriculum is by far disappointing,” he says.
He says the ministry advised the college to adjust the curriculum to meet the required standard.
Makhele says this was not done, yet the college is still churning out “graduates”.

According to Makhele, the college has continued operating because officials were unclear on whether it was the education ministry or the health ministry mandated with shutting down the shady institution.

“Now it is clear that it is MoET’s duty to shut the school,” Makhele says.
But those who want the college to be shut down should not expect any action soon because, apparently, the ministry is quite patient with substandard facilities that it gives them time to reform.
“They needed assistance…We would close it only if we are convinced that she will never meet the requirements,” Makhele says.
He says the founder of the college has begun cooperating with the ministry.

“She even came back seeking assistance so as to abide and we informed her that if they could not get things right now, then they would leave them with no option but to shut the school as we have walked a long journey to come this far and they promised to comply,” says Makhele.

“It took us a long time begging her to comply with the law than we anticipated. Regardless of the damage they have already incurred, our plea is that they should abide by the law,” he says.
In the meantime, as the ministry allows the college to continue taking part from a fresh batch of unsuspecting students, victims such as the 29-year-old Moremoholo have to roam the streets or start all over again.

’Mapule Motsopa

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