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Students call for new degree policy


Some of 2014-2015 NUL Graduands on Saturday during the graduation Ceremony at NUL

Pascalinah Kabi

THE Lesotho Students Union have called on government to come up with a policy to enable local diploma holders to be exempted from the normal entry requirements when enrolling for degree courses at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

Diploma holders in several countries are exempted from the normal entry requirements, enabling them to begin degree studies at the level of third year students.

However, in Lesotho, they are forced to begin at first year level like high school leavers who hold the school leaving Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education (LGCSE).

LSU president, Tšakholo Motake said the union whose membership is drawn from five tertiary institutions, found the practice to lack economic viability as too much money was spent on educating one student and the long years spent as a student delayed the graduate from becoming economically active.

The five institutions are the Institute of Extra- Mural Studies (IEMS), Lesotho College of Education (LCE), Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, Botho University and NUL.

“We are realised that Lesotho was one of the countries with high unemployment rates, especially among the youth, making it difficult for our youth to be economically active,” Mr Motake said, adding “other developing countries are doing everything in their power to ensure that young people are economically active.”

He said it was a burning issue among students that diploma holders were forced to compete for places at university with Form E students.

He said it was even more worrying that diploma graduates from IEMS and LCE – respectively NUL branch and affiliate – were also forced to follow the same procedure with Form E students when enrolling for degree programmes.

He said there was an urgent need for key players in the education sector to come up with a policy giving local institutions’ diploma holders an exemption when enrolling for degree studies.

“The National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) spends double on one student studying for a diploma for 2 to 3 years and again to study for another 4 to 5 years for a degree course.

“So you see, if we come up with a policy for diploma holders to enroll at third year for a degree, the country will save approximately M68 000 for the two years a diploma holder would have skipped,” he said.

He said they had written several letters seeking an audience with government on issues affecting students.

In one of the letters dated 9 January, 2017, one of the LSU’s founding associations – the Student Teachers Alliance – wrote to the Teachers Serving Department (TSD) requesting to be represented in the “meetings of LCE and NUL Partnership because the deliberated matters are centred on student teachers.”

“Furthermore, the student teachers are excluded in the board that is reforming the Education Act of 2010. We also maintain that our inclusion in this board will lend a great weight looking at the dynamics of teaching in the world,” reads part of the letter.

Developing Planning Principal Secretary, Tlohang Aumane expressed his support for the students, saying a policy change would be beneficial to Lesotho’s economy.

“We fully support this argument but unfortunately as developing planning we only come in as sponsors of higher learning. They need to take it up with NUL as it is the one that doesn’t recognise prior learning qualifications.

“As a country we need to swiftly move to a point where the university recognises prior learning qualifications and if they cannot recognise diploma qualifications from local institutions, they need to say why,” Mr Aumane said.

He advised the union to plead their case directly with university and that “as members of the NUL council we would be able to pose questions and give advice during council meetings.”

Mr Aumane said paying for the “same thing” twice was not economically sensible and that “the union’s argument makes sense.”

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