CAS adds to rich port­fo­lio

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

THE Cen­tre for Ac­count­ing Stud­ies (CAS) on Fri­day last week launched an his­toric Char­tered In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment Ac­coun­tants (CIMA) pro­gramme aimed at equip­ping grad­u­ates with skills to com­pete in in­ter­na­tional job mar­kets.

The pro­gramme would see stu­dents grad­u­ate with a CIMA Busi­ness Ac­count­ing cer­tifi­cate and CIMA Di­ploma in Man­age­ment Ac­count­ing, af­ter start­ing the course at Op­er­a­tional Level. CIMA is a Lon­don-based pro­fes­sional body of­fer­ing train­ing and qual­i­fi­ca­tion in man­age­ment ac­coun­tancy and re­lated sub­jects.

CAS Regis­trar, Mot­latsi Ntšala, speaks with Le­sotho Times ( LT) re­porter, Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane, about the in­sti­tu­tion’s lat­est de­vel­op­ment and re­lated is­sues in this wide-rang­ing in­ter­view.

LT: CAS is open­ing yet an­other new chap­ter by launch­ing this new pro­gramme to­day. Please could you tell us more about this de­vel­op­ment?

Ntšala: This is a new pro­gramme un­der CIMA, which is short for Char­tered In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment Ac­coun­tants. In fact, it comes to CAS as an ad­di­tional pro­gramme which is re­spon­sive to the needs of Ba­sotho, es­pe­cially with re­gard to fi­nances. It is adding more to pro­grammes in the fi­nan­cial sec­tor in this coun­try and also comes as part of our strate­gic plan. The pro­gramme was ini­tially in­tro­duced last year but we met chal­lenges.

This year, we launch it for­merly in that it has now been ac­cred­ited by the Coun­cil on Higher Ed­u­ca­tion (CHE) and al­lo­cated spon­sor­ship by the Na­tional Man­power De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tariat (NMDS). It is also recog­nised by the Le­sotho In­sti­tute of Ac­coun­tants (LIA). We have been given a quota of 100 stu­dents this aca­demic year for spon­sor­ship un­der NMDS schol­ar­ships and al­ready ad­mit­ted stu­dents so the in­ten­tion is that by 11 July (2016), the pro­gramme takes off.

It is tak­ing off at two lev­els, the first one be­ing Cer­tifi­cate in Busi­ness Ac­count­ing and the next stage be­ing Op­er­a­tional level. The first level is mainly stu­dents ad­mit­ted through Cam­bridge Overseas School Cer­tifi­cate (COSC) qual­i­fi­ca­tions or the re­cently in­tro­duced Le­sotho Gen­eral Cer­tifi­cate of Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion (LGCSE). Op­er­a­tional Level is mainly for the stu­dents we lost last year due to chal­lenges of spon­sor­ship and ac­cred­i­ta­tion as I have in­di­cated ear­lier.

These stu­dents had en­rolled with CIMA on their own, through dis­tance-learn­ing and at­tained cer­tifi­cates. For now, the pro­gramme is very fa­mous in South Africa. We are happy they are not to­tally lost be­cause we are now ad­vanc­ing to the next stage with them.

LT: What are the spe­cific pro­fes­sional ar­eas that this pro­gramme ad­dresses?

Ntšala: The pro­gramme, like I said, is re­spon­sive and adding pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions to this coun­try. It is in­tended to give stu­dents skills in re­la­tion to busi­ness, lead­er­ship, pro­cure­ment and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, gen­er­ally. You will re­alise it is dif­fer­ent from other ac­count­ing pro­grammes. It also goes in line with the Na­tional Vi­sion 2020.

The in­ten­tion is to pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion which em­pow­ers Ba­sotho with skills to com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally. We are us­ing al­most the same ad­mis­sion re­quire­ments that we have al­ways used in our usual ACCA (As­so­ci­a­tion of Char­tered Cer­ti­fied Ac­coun­tants) pro­grammes.

We are look­ing at grades from A up to C in Math­e­mat­ics and English sub­jects. Then we take any four sub­jects whose grades are C or bet­ter. Stu­dents take three-and-a-half years to com­plete the pro­gramme.

LT: What is the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two qual­i­fi­ca­tions you are launch­ing to­day?

Ntšala: The first level is a CIMA cer­tifi­cate. Those who have the CIMA cer­tifi­cate qual­ify for the CIMA Op­er­a­tional stage. How­ever, the chal­lenge with equat­ing pro­fes­sional pro­grammes with aca­demic pro­grammes re­mains. Even very re­cently we had a work­shop by CHE on the Le­sotho qual­i­fi­ca­tion frame­work. The author­ity in­tends to align dif­fer­ent pro­grammes’ lev­els.

For ex­am­ple, you might find that his­tor­i­cally, in­sti­tu­tion A is of­fer­ing a di­ploma qual­i­fi­ca­tion in one year, and within the same coun­try, in­sti­tu­tion B is of­fer­ing the same di­ploma in two or three years. That has been a prob­lem. When the grad­u­ates are now be­ing put on a scale for em­ploy­ment, there is no clear de­mar­ca­tion.

So with the CIMA pro­gramme, we are try­ing to avoid that by sim­ply re­fer­ring to the qual­i­fi­ca­tions as stages one and two. Chances are that it is go­ing to be easy to equate aca­demic pro­grammes on their own but not with pro­fes­sional pro­grammes. South Africa is very for­tu­nate to have an in­sti­tu­tion like the South African Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Author­ity (SAQA) which eval­u­ates these qual­i­fi­ca­tions. We don’t have that in Le­sotho as yet.

LT: As the CAS man­age­ment, what does it mean to you to have this new pro­gramme?

Ntšala: It means the in­sti­tu­tion is di­ver­si­fy­ing, adding more pro­grammes which are re­spon­sive to the needs of this coun­try and in par­tic­u­lar to the line of the ac­count­ing pro­fes­sion. It means that now the in­sti­tu­tion is con­tribut­ing to­wards the pro­fes­sion in as far as the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors are con­cerned. We are re­spond­ing to the Na­tional Vi­sion 2020. This was the ra­tio­nale be­hind in­tro­duc­ing this pro­gramme.

LT: When was this pro­gramme ap­proved by CHE?

Ntšala: Last year, and then upon ac­cred­i­ta­tion, we were able to sub­mit a re­quest for spon­sor­ship to the NMDS. This was ap­proved for this aca­demic year, 2016/2017.

LT: Does the NMDS quota of 100 stu­dents cover both CIMA stages?

Ntšala: When we are given that quota by the NMDS, it is up to us to di­vide it into the two stages. We have al­ready sub­mit­ted 33 stu­dents for the first cer­tifi­cate level, and 18 stu­dents for the op­er­a­tional stage. That adds to a to­tal of 51 stu­dents we have ad­mit­ted for the first in­take.

The re­main­ing 49 stu­dents will come in the next in­take in Jan­uary next year. As long as the quota is used within one aca­demic year and the NMDS bud­get al­lo­ca­tion pe­riod all is fine. This means we have two in­takes in July and Jan­uary, re­spec­tively.

LT: In terms of in­fra­struc­ture, peo­ple al­ways won­der if CAS has enough space to of­fer these pro­grammes…

Ntšala: We def­i­nitely have a huge chal­lenge of ca­pac­ity in terms of in­fra­struc­ture. Right now, you will find that even at ACCA level, we have quite a num­ber of stu­dents that we can­not ac­com­mo­date, al­though we are work­ing to­wards ad­dress­ing that chal­lenge. When CAS was es­tab­lished in 1979 as an Ir­ish project, the in­ten­tion was to re­spond to the needs of govern­ment min­istries. That is why it was ini­tially housed as a de­part­ment of the Min­istry of Fi­nance.

So these build­ings were meant for those few peo­ple at that time, who were even at­tend­ing classes in the evening. How­ever, we have looked into the space used here. We are in the process of de­sign­ing new fa­cil­i­ties like lec­ture the­atres, of­fices, com­puter lab and a li­brary. We have also se­cured a site in Maseru South West (Ma­sowe) for the con­struc­tion of ad­di­tional fa­cil­i­ties.

We are now at mas­ter­plan stage for that site. The plan has been sub­mit­ted to the Min­istry of Pub­lic Works and Trans­port for guid­ance. I have also sub­mit­ted a fi­nan­cial pro­posal to the Min­istry of Fi­nance for that project. It has been ver­bally ap­proved as a good idea and is pend­ing tech­ni­cal eval­u­a­tion from the Min­istry of Pub­lic Works. LT: What is the re­la­tion­ship be­tween CAS and the govern­ment? Is the in­sti­tu­tion au­ton­o­mous?

Ntšala: Like I said, CAS was es­tab­lished as a de­part­ment to re­spond to the needs of ac­counts sec­tions, start­ing with the Min­istry of Fi­nance, but fi­nally for all other min­istries. How­ever, since it is an in­sti­tute of higher learn­ing, it is a bit au­ton­o­mous though it has not been granted au­ton­omy by any Act (law) but it is run like any other in­sti­tu­tion of higher learn­ing.

It has its own coun­cil, which is re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing the run­ning of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. It is re­ceiv­ing govern­ment sub­ven­tion like other in­sti­tu­tions. How­ever, there has been a cabi­net de­ci­sion that all in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing should be­long to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. We are left with the han­dover to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

LT: Other than CIMA, what are other pro­grammes are of­fered by CAS?

Ntšala: The core of CAS is ACCA. But other than that, we also have Char­tered In­sti­tute of Pub­lic Fi­nance and Ac­coun­tancy (CIPFA) pro­grammes. This one also came as an Ir­ish project in­tended to ca­pac­i­tate ac­counts per­son­nel in the Min­istry of Fi­nance and fi­nally, the rest of the govern­ment min­istries. But that pro­gramme is over in terms of fund­ing. It has now been taken by the govern­ment of Le­sotho.

Stu­dents now en­roll with the govern­ment but are still taught by CAS on block-re­lease. This means in a month, they go out for a week to our centres in Mo­hale’s Hoek, Ma­hobong and this one in Maseru, to serve peo­ple from the south­ern, north­ern and cen­tral parts of the coun­try, re­spec­tively. But the cen­tral one is not op­er­at­ing on a block re­lease but through evening classes.

We opened an­other cen­tre in Qacha’s Nek for con­ve­nience this year. All in all we have three pro­grammes, ACCA, CIPFA and now CIMA.

LT: What is the to­tal en­rol­ment of stu­dents at CAS?

Ntšala: We are nor­mally mov­ing be­tween 900 and 1003 per year. So the quota for ACCA alone is 360 ev­ery year. Equally, we di­vide it into two in­takes.

The pro­gramme, is re­spon­sive and adding pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions to this coun­try. It is in­tended to give stu­dents skills in re­la­tion to busi­ness, lead­er­ship, pro­cure­ment and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy, gen­er­ally. You will re­alise it is dif­fer­ent from other ac­count­ing pro­grammes. It also goes in line with the Na­tional Vi­sion 2020.

CAS Regis­trar Mot­latsi Ntšala

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