M2.6 million equipment for Fokothi

M2.6 million equipment for Fokothi

MASERU-THE Lerotholi Polytechnic College this week received equipment worth M2.6 million from the government.

The consignment includes 52 computers as well as an array of tourism and hospitality equipment to assist the college improve its practical courses.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) provided the soft loan to fund the equipment through the government’s Economic Diversification Support Project (EDSP) which is under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The equipment includes canoes, camping gear, cutlery, stoves and ovens for the college’s tourism and hospitality courses.
Prof Sepirit Tlali, the rector, said the equipment will help the college produce graduates that can thrive in the industry and can start their businesses.

Prof Tlali said the challenge has been to produce students who meet the industry requirements.

He said because of the lack of equipment in some programmes there was a huge gap between what the students learn and what the industry needs.
This mismatch, he said, is particularly apparent in the tourism and hospitality programmes that have become theoretical due to the lack of equipment for practicals.

He said the equipment comes at a time when the college is reviewing its courses in line with the Lesotho Qualifications Framework.

“This equipment will go a long way in ensuring that we offer programmes of the highest quality,” Dr Tlali said, adding that the college is in the process of introducing some degree programmes.

He said apart from funding the new equipment, the AfDB, through the EDSP, also assisted the college to review its tourism and hospitality curriculum.

“As part of giving the student the practical experience, the college is also reviving the cafeteria which has been dormant for years,” he said.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Thabiso Molapo, described the handover as a “milestone in the development of the tourism and hospitality sector in Lesotho”.

He said it is in line with the National Strategic Development Plan and the National Tourism Policy’s strategy that seeks to transform Lesotho into a premium tourism destination.

The minister said the equipment comes at a time when Lesotho “is facing a myriad of unemployment challenges which is worsened by the considerable mismatch between the skills and knowledge that graduates of universities and higher learning institutions acquire and the needs of the industry and business”.

“It also comes at a time when the country is trying to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 in the economy.”
He noted that the majority of the graduates Lesotho produces every year remain unemployed.

“We have seen them going up and down the streets, and moving from office to office with large envelopes looking for employment without success. Some graduates even end up underemployed just for the sake of putting bread on the table,” he said.

“The objective is to create sustainable jobs and to contribute towards poverty reduction and inclusive economic growth through tourism.”
The ultimate goal, he added, is “to ensure that the tourism and hospitality sector has relevant skills sets, knowledge and attitude to deliver high-quality products”.

Dr Molapo said the education system is still unable to adequately offer what the job market demands despite various efforts to transform and restructure.

“It is my belief that the equipment and new curriculum will help address the existing skills mismatch between the education system and the workplace.”

“We need a post-school education and training system that is responsive to the needs of individual citizens and employers in both public and private sectors, and a system that addresses broader societal and national development objectives.”

Chaba Mokuku, project manager of the EDSP, said the equipment is being delivered when Lesotho faces the worst economic recession since independence.

Mokuku said the country faces sluggish economic growth, acute poverty, job losses and massive unemployment.

The solution, Mokuku said, is to create an enabling environment for private sector growth and to diversify the economy.

“The tourism sector is one of the sectors that have been identified as the engines of the country’s economic growth. That is why colleges that offer courses relevant to the sector have to be supported,” Mokuku said.

’Malimpho Majoro

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