By Public Eye
Lesotho Institute of Public Administration and Management (LIPAM) has refused to issue examination results to students whose fees are overdue, local weekly Public Eye reported on Friday.
According to Public Eye, this has left 320 debt-ridden students in a catch 22 situation as they can neither go back nor forward.
The institute, which is wholly owned by the government, has only issued results to students whose fees accounts have been fully settled, according to the Students Representative Council (SRC).
“We have a problem of students who cannot access their results as they are unable to pay tuition fees, about 87 percent of the students have not received their results,” SRC president, Tumane Nyeoe, told Public Eye on Tuesday.
“Initially, we were helped by the manpower (National Manpower Development Secretariat) to pay for our education but that changed when civil servants started coming to school here in great numbers,” Nyeoe said.
He, however, indicated that things have changed now and civil servants were no longer going to LIPAM in great numbers.
“Students have been struggling to fund their studies since last academic year (2018/2019), I am saying this because the dropout rate was about 29 percent and our management seems unconcerned about this crisis,” he said.
“Some students have to supplement some modules to proceed to the following year, but how can they know which modules they have to supplement if they have not seen their results! That is why we even pleaded with the management to at least notify those that have to supplement,” he added.
Another student ‘Mabohlokoa Nthabeleng Moorosi, who is also member of the SRC, told Public Eye on Monday that they were not sponsored by the government and have always had to fend for themselves, but emphasized that funding their studies this year was not so simple due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The economic crisis wrought by COVID-19 is unlike anything in modern history of Lesotho, Africa and the rest of the world.
The worst harms of the crisis are falling heavily and disproportionately on the most vulnerable people in the country, especially people who are unemployed, those in informal work and those living paycheck-to-paycheck.
People have had their salaries cut while some have lost jobs and are unable to pay rent and buy food.
In the midst of this crisis, paying tuition fees is the last thing a family worries about.
In light of this ongoing global emergency, some countries made immediate changes to their fees and fines policies to ensure that fees and fines are not a barrier to people’s basic needs throughout this emergency and to promote the resiliency of their communities.
“I make part of the LIPAM SRC and earlier this year we approached the ministry of public service requesting some of assistance with regards to our tuition fees but we were sent back to the school to request them to present the proposal to the ministry- not sure why and frankly they (LIPAM management) did not bother,” she said.
She added that: “Now the final results are out with a staggering 85 pending due to non-payment of tuition fees.
The institute’s registrar Thuto Lebina and director academic affairs, ‘Mamolise Phakisi, told Public Eye this week that they were not in a position to speak to the media on behalf of the school and referred this reporter to the institute’s director general, Koena Tlalajoe.
Tlalajoe would not respond directly on the students’ allegation that their examination results were withheld.
“The institute falls under the ministry of public service. Only the ministry can respond to your questions,” she said.
When contacted, ministry of public service’s Principal Secretary Thabo Motoko sounded surprised that the school referred media questions to the ministry and promised to call Tlalajoe and command instruct her to respond to this publication’s questions.
Motoko did not pick his phone when Public Eye called him again on Thursday.
Many high schools and universities refuse students access to their examination results when they have not settled their fees.
This, however, is considered unfair by some observers.
In January 2019, Chabana Chabana, said the vice-like grip on graduate certificates by universities frustrated not only the graduates but also their entire families.
In an op-ed titled: Universities should not withhold certificates from impoverished graduates published by the Daily Maverick, Chabana said the certificates, to black families, represented a break with generational poverty.
“The documents are an inspiration to their siblings, hence they are hung on the walls in our homes as a reminder and motivation that hard work pays off. Our universities are still mercilessly holding on to certificates of many graduates who cannot afford to settle their tuition fees,” he said.
He added that: “We must fight against the brutalisation of graduates to poverty. Our institutions must be made aware that there are other means to recuperate what is due to them.
“To cling to these certificates is tantamount to the povertisation of this section of our society. We must fight to ensure that these graduates practise their trades because some possess scarce skills which can propel our economy forward.” NW