The Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology Dr Douglas Letsholathebe faces a first litmus test regarding non-compliance issues by some institutions, which often lead to student going on strike.
Irate AWIL College students have petitioned the minister demanding answers. Ministers of tertiary education have in the past been hauled over coals in a baptism of fire facing protests from Student Representative Councils (SRCs) due to unaccredited courses in some institutions.
An educationist by profession, Dr Letsholathebe like his predecessors is not an exemption from being summoned by tertiary students complaining yet again with regular bogus qualifications. The disgruntled students of the college formerly known as AFDA Botswana are at odds with the school management contesting that they are placed in wrong academic qualification by school.
The 2019 progression media students indicate that they were supposed to enroll in BA Honors in Motion Picture Medium as programmes were advertised by the college and proceeded with applications for sponsorship from Department of Tertiary Education Financing (DTEF) to enroll. According to students’ petition representative, Kabelo Baalafeng said students were placed in Degree classes thus enrolled into wrong academic level unlike what promised to them by AWIL. He said the school management and DTEF under the ministry of Dr Letsholathebe are failing to come up with solutions on the matter although their education being compromised currently.
Students want minister Letsholathebe to probe how DTEF has been funding the school while they raised concerns with DTEF that their level does not correspond with DTEF loan agreements. “The college sold us a dummy when we applied for the BA Honors courses that we anticipated to seat for. We were told by the school management that we would have to wait for our test results/score which would then determine whether one is placed into second year, third year of fourth year. We were later taken aback because we had letters from DTEF funding us for 1 year progression to get our BA (Hons) in motion picture Medium,” reads part of petition to minister.
Furthermore, there has been continuous chaos as many other students left school to transfer to other learning institutions but school was loath to issue transfer letters but rather withdrawals.
The anxious students note that with instilled with fear of losing sponsorships they stayed in the school and were told by management that they would not be getting their BA Honors as well.
"We were told we will be graduating with Bachelors degrees and not Honors Degree anymore without any written agreement from DTEF or BQA on the matter. We were told by the school management that we would have to wait for our competency test results/score which would then define whether one is placed into second year, third year or fourth year,” students complained.
When reached for comment, Dr Letsholathebe said he wasn’t aware of the petition but would look into the matter. “I would check with my office regarding student’s petition and will decide on the way forward,” he said.
The Director of DTEF Neo Sebolao was not available for comment as her mobile phone was off.
The CEO of AWIL College Tshegofatso Ntshingane said there is no truth regarding the students concerns as they were subjected to aptitude test prior to enrolling in BA Honors and majority of them failed adding that he will furnish this reporter with all records next week.
“Nobody forced students into classes they are enrolled in now. They voluntarily attended them. The issue that we know is that students were requiring extension for sponsorship and that is a matter between them and their sponsors as it a contract that must involve them and DTEF,” he said.
According to Ntshingane, he is devoted to assisting the students but they don’t cooperate with the management noting that the school offer honors but one has to pass requisites first to enroll.