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Failed students sue polytechnic

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 MASERU — Eighteen Lerotholi Polytechnic students on Friday pleaded with the High Court to order the school to remark the typing course they failed and ultimately saw them failing to graduate yesterday.

These students were pursuing a two-year Diploma in Office Administration and Management.

The final-year students would have graduated yesterday had they not failed the computer typing test which is a critical component of the diploma course.

A total of 25 out of 71 students failed the typing course.

But only 18 of those who failed decided to seek legal recourse, arguing they had been unfairly treated.

They made an urgent High Court application seeking the court to order the Lerotholi Polytechnic council to use the first-year scale to assess their performance after they failed the second year which ended in May.

They are complaining that they were not taught the subject in their first year of study.

The school says they should repeat the course and only graduate after passing it.

The students’ lawyer, Advocate Mosito Rabotsoa, on Friday pleaded with the High Court to order Lerotholi Polytechnic’s council to reconsider its decision.

The students, after their results were announced in June, asked the council to reconsider its decision.

They raised the same argument to the council that they should be treated as the first-year students in this particular subject.

They did not study computer typing because their lecturers said the institute did not have facilities to teach the subject.

“It is highly unfair and prejudicial for the applicants to be assessed using the second-year standard because it was their first time to do the course,” Rabotsoa said.

“We are not saying this honourable court should award marks. We are merely saying they should be assessed using the first-year scale.”

First-year students are expected to type not less than 20 words a minute to pass computer typing.

Second-year students should type at least 35 words a minute to reach the pass mark.

Rabotsoa said the students should be assessed using the typing speed of 20 words a minute because they were not introduced to the course in their first year of study.

Two lecturers were dismissed last year for not teaching the computer typing course at Lerotholi Polytechnic.

But they appealed against their dismissal saying they could not teach the course because the institute did not provide the required facilities.

Their case is still pending before the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution.

Judgment in the lecturers’ case is expected within a month.

Rabotsoa said the students should not suffer as a result of the institute’s failure to meet its obligations.

“The institute should have made sure that the applicants were taught the subject,” he said.

“They should not suffer only because the institute failed to comply with its own regulations.”

But Lerotholi Polytechnic’s lawyer, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda, said the students’ complaint was not genuine because other students had passed the subject.

“I am not surprised that the applicants withheld some information from the court that some students passed the same course,” Mda said.

“They were aware that we would be asking why they want to be treated differently.”

Mda said the High Court was not the right forum to deal with the students’ complaint about the results.

“The assessment function is solely vested with the senate not anybody else. Not even this honourable court. They are asking this court to ignore the body vested with such powers,” he said.

Mda said the decision by the Lerotholi Polytechnic’s council that the students should repeat was final.

“In essence they are asking this court to revise the institute’s regulations but I submit this court has no such powers,” he said.

Last year students who graduated with a Diploma in Office Administration and Management were not assessed on computer typing.

The reason was that the course had not been taught because of lack of facilities at the institute.

High Court judge ‘Maseforo Mahase will deliver judgment in the students’ case next month.

“I wanted to make a ruling as soon as possible but my diary is full,” Justice Mahase said.

“Judgment will be delivered on 18 October 2010.”

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