PATECO Students Fear Uncertain Future

PATECO students
PATECO students

PALAPYE: Masses of dejected first year students filled the hall at the West campus of Palapye Technical College (PATECO) on Friday, to receive news of their future stay at the college.

The students were informed of the criterion that would be used to reduce their numbers to meet the capacity of the college.Over a thousand first year students were admitted at the college back in October 2018 under the new programme for certificate courses in various trades.

In fact, it is a similar case with many technical colleges across the country where students were admitted in large numbers. These over-capacitated respective colleges and now their study opportunities face uncertainties.

The situation at PATECO has left the facility overwhelmed by the bloated number of students and plans are being made to cut their numbers. The students registered in October 2018 before they were sent back home and were told to return in January 2019. In January they had a character-building programme, inclusive of physical activities conducted by Botswana Defence Force personnel. It ran for three months until March when PATECO went for semester break.

In April when students returned, they got into respective classes. They were taught in batches through a rotation method, attending classes twice a week per batch.

Students complained, and a series of meetings for the students’ representative council (SRC), the college and the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Skills Development ensued. SRC felt the meetings were not fruitful.

At Friday’s gathering, the school head, Patricia Ani Yezo delivered a directive from her bosses at the ministry on the criterion that would be used to deal with the students’ numbers.

In her deliberations, Yezo said the college was going back to its traditional admission ways. She said it would be reviewed whether all affected students meet the minimum requirement as per the advertisement, which was Junior Certificate.

Those admitted outside the requirement would not be cut, she said, instead they would be sent for rapid skills or would be subjected to Trade-C.

The group that meets the set requirement would undergo an aptitude test. Those who fail to meet the 50% pass mark would also be sent for Rapid skills and Trade-C, she explained.

If the numbers still exceeded capacity, students would be rated from high to lower scorers. They would then be divided into groups.

“The first group would start in January and would study for 13 weeks before they leave for industry training and the other group would join them after,” she told the gathered students.

Students decried that they wasted their time at the college and had abandoned their projects back home for education.

When the school head announced they would be tested through Science, Maths and English, there were murmurs in the hall, “mo ke go bata gore kgaola hela”.

Welding and Fabrication student, Jason Mothankanyane said he had been renting in Palapye since he came for registration last year October.

“I even paid transport to school everyday with the hope classes would fully commence. I have invested a lot of money and now I am back to uncertainty. This cannot be fair,” he said.

Gaone Mapini, who is enrolled for National Certificate in Secretarial Studies, wondered why she would be subjected to writing the aptitude test.

“I am studying a course that is under-capacitated but it appears even us are going for that test. It is just a way of kicking us out,” she said.

SRC president, Othusitse Kenamile warned that they would vehemently contest the move. He said the students had made huge sacrifices leaving their menial jobs back home for school, paying rent and transportation and argued that  they should be compensated if they were to be cut.

“We should know how unsuccessful students would be compensated before we sit for this interview,” Kenamile said of the aptitude test scheduled for Wednesday.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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