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Ministry unaware of dropouts challenges

BABOKI KAYAWE
Government is not aware of students' problems
Higher education officials have denied knowledge of any government-sponsored tertiary students dropouts who were disadvantaged by the school system.

Assistant Minister of Tertiary Education, Research Science and Technology Fidelis Molao made the utterances this week in Parliament after Francistown South legislator, Wynter Mmolotsi inquired about higher learners, who in the process of pursuing study programmes, encounter institutional challenges such as course discontinuation. Parliament heard that some dropouts were a manifestation of franchised courses being discontinued where local institutions have procured them.

In some instances, Mmolotsi said institutions have technological challenges that bar learners from writing examinations. “At times during examinations, their computer systems were not working and therefore, those pursuing programmes examined online could not write examinations and the students end up dropping off,” Mmolotsi said.  “Minister, haven’t you heard of institutional challenges that lead to students not completing programmes?"Mmolotsi challenged, adding that in the process, they students dropped out not because of their own doing, but because the institution could not meet some of the requirements, which hindered the students from continuing with their studies?”

“I haven’t heard of such,” Molao responded. Moreover, he said if such cases exist, learners failed to notify the sponsor.  Nonetheless, he said as much as institutions of higher learning have different campuses, where there are challenges in certain courses, there is an arrangement for students to be transferred from that campus to another one in order to complete studies.

In response, Mmolotsi asked the tertiary education authorities to take this issue seriously, as it is very much

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alive and ought to be addressed urgently.

“Let us know what measures will be taken to assist such learners who are found to have been disadvantaged by the school system. How are they going to be assisted?” Mmolotsi had inquired about the students sponsored at Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies (GIPS), Botho College and Gaborone University College of Law in 2010. It emerged that a total of 130 dropped out at Botho, whilst 95 did so at GIPS.

“We have not been able to establish from our records the reasons for the drop outs,” answered Molao.

A total of 1,113 students were sponsored at both GIPS and Botho College in 2010, while there were no students sponsored at the Gaborone University College of Law that year. With regard to the distribution of students by institutions, 726 were sponsored at Botho whilst the remaining 387 were sponsored at GIPS at its three campuses of Francistown (82), Gaborone (279) and Lobatse (26).

With respect to the graduation rates, Molao indicated that Botho University graduated 596 students with Professional Diploma Honours in IT, BSc Degree and Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) qualifications. In 2013 they graduated 289 with Degrees, 285 with  Professional Diploma and 22 with AAT. Meanwhile, 292 students graduated in 2012 as follows; Business Skills (145); Association of Business Executives (30); London Centre of Marketing (117). The last two programmes were franchise programmes, he explained.



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