‘Qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion not ne­go­tiable’

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

ED­U­CA­TION and Train­ing Min­is­ter Dr Ma­hali Phamotse has urged ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions to re­cruit qual­i­fied lec­tur­ers to im­prove the qual­ity of learn­ing.

The min­is­ter made the re­mark dur­ing the of­fi­cial launch of Botho Uni­ver­sity at its Maseru Mall cam­pus on Mon­day. The uni­ver­sity be­came op­er­a­tional in Le­sotho in 2014 and made its first in­take in July 2015.

It cur­rently of­fers seven pro­grammes ac­cred­ited by the Coun­cil on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (CHE) and has en­rolled 200 stu­dents.

Among the dig­ni­taries in at­ten­dance at the colour­ful launch cer­e­mony was Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso and gov­ern­ment min­is­ters.

Dr Phamotse said ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions should pri­ori­tise bring­ing value for the hard earned money stu­dents pay.

“Value for money mat­ters even at the higher ed­u­ca­tion level. In­sti­tu­tions, on the other hand, must guard against mis­man­age­ment by re­cruit­ing staff of a cal­i­bre that shall en­sure the qual­ity and rel­e­vance of higher ed­u­ca­tion to Le­sotho’s needs,” Dr Phamotse said.

“I have in­structed the ter­tiary depart­ment in my min­istry to never hes­i­tate to put the aca­demic lead­er­ship of all in­sti­tu­tions, Botho in­cluded, un­der the lead­er­ship of a highly qual­i­fied per­son­nel of pro­fes­sors, doc­tors and aca­demics of renowned aca­demic acu­men. I be­lieve Botho Uni­ver­sity shall not fail us in this re­gard.” She said par­ents of Botho Uni­ver­sity stu- dents could rest as­sured that the in­sti­tute met CHE stan­dards. The coun­cil was es­tab­lished to pro­mote qual­ity in the higher ed­u­ca­tion sub­sec­tor.

“Botho Uni­ver­sity there­fore re­mains one of the safest pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions lo­cally so par­ents can con­fi­dently spend their lim­ited sav­ings by send­ing their chil­dren to the in­sti­tu­tion,” Dr Phamotse said.

The min­is­ter said she was com­mit­ted to re­mov­ing all bar­ri­ers to new en­trants in the higher ed­u­ca­tion sub-sec­tor.

“This gov­ern­ment val­ues com­pe­ti­tion. My min­istry strongly as­pires for a di­verse, com­pet­i­tive sys­tem that can of­fer dif­fer­ent types of higher ed­u­ca­tion so that stu­dents choose freely be­tween a wide range of providers and pro­grammes,” Dr Phamotse said.

She, how­ever, warned ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion providers to abide by the min­i­mum stan­dards set by the min­istry.

“I must em­pha­sise that Le­sotho’s higher ed­u­ca­tion sub-sec­tor has room only for high qual­ity providers,” said the min­is­ter.

“We there­fore will not al­low de­fault­ers on mea­sures put in place to pro­tect the fu­ture as­pi­ra­tions of the Ba­sotho stu­dents.

“The min­i­mum pro­gramme ac­cred­i­ta­tion stan­dards must be ob­served fully, in­sti­tu­tional ac­cred­i­ta­tion stan­dards must be ob­served fully; and ad­her­ence to the re­quire­ments for reg­is­tra­tion of higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions is manda­tory. Our higher ed­u­ca­tion sub-sec­tor must be­come the envy of the world.”

For her part, Botho Uni­ver­sity Vice-chan­cel­lor Sheela Raja Ram said the in­sti­tute would con­tinue to com­ply with higher ed­u­ca­tion reg­u­la­tions.

“I would like to thank the gov­ern­ment of Le­sotho, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing, the Min­istry of De­vel­op­ment Plan­ning and Min­istry of Fi­nance for hav­ing faith in us and for spon­sor­ing stu­dents to study with us,” Ms Raja Ram said.

“I would also like to thank the CHE for tak­ing us through the var­i­ous, very elab­o­rate and rig­or­ous reg­u­la­tory ap­provals. Botho Uni­ver­sity is per­fectly com­fort­able sub­ject­ing our­selves to very rig­or­ous reg­u­la­tory qual­ity as­sur­ance.”

She said the reg­u­la­tions were not new to them as they un­der­went sim­i­lar pro­ce­dures in Botswana.

Ms Raja Ram said Botho Uni­ver­sity was founded in Botswana in 1997 as a com­puter train­ing in­sti­tute and grew to be­come a mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary col­lege and then a uni­ver­sity.

The vice-chan­cel­lor also said they would build a sim­i­lar cam­pus to the one in Botswana if the uni­ver­sity’s en­rol­ment con­tin­ues to in­crease.

“It is our as­sur­ance that should there be good en­rol­ment of stu­dents and our board mem­bers feel com­fort­able about the vi­a­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity of our op­er­a­tions in Le­sotho, we can have a cam­pus sim­i­lar to Botswana in Maseru pro­vided that we are able to man­age our risk,” said Ms Raja Ram.

The rel­a­tively small num­ber of stu­dents, she said, had en­abled a low stu­dent-fac­ulty ra­tio thus mak­ing the uni­ver­sity more com­pet­i­tive.

Ms Raja Ram also said the uni­ver­sity was mak­ing full use of tech­nol­ogy by ex­pos­ing stu­dents to e-li­brary ser­vices, with each stu­dent hav­ing been given a tablet com­puter so they can ac­cess the fa­cil­ity at any time and any­where.

“En­trepreneur­ship mod­ules are em­bed­ded in all our pro­grammes, and given that the gov­ern­ment is no longer the big­gest em­ployer and that com­pe­ti­tion is high in the mar­ket place, we are pro­duc­ing job cre­ators in­stead of job seek­ers,” she said.

“Le­sotho needs new skills and our pro­grammes are de­signed in a way that will boost the econ­omy. We are fo­cus­ing on the holis­tic de­vel­op­ment of each stu­dent.”

ED­U­CA­TION Min­is­ter Dr Ma­hali Phamotse (right) and Botho Uni­ver­sity Vice-chan­cel­lor Sheela Raja Ram ar­rive at the launch cer­e­mony held at the in­sti­tute’s Maseru Mall cam­pus on Mon­day.

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