LCE students dig in their heels


. . . snub Minister’s plea to withdraw court case


MASERU – The 2023 students’ results at the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) remain pending after the students decided not to withdraw their court case as advised by the Minister of Education and Training, Professor Ntoi Rapapa. The minister addressed the issue during a press conference on Tuesday this week, revealing that he had met the LCE’s members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) the previous day. During this meeting, Rapapa urged the students to withdraw their case in order to facilitate a resolution.

He proposed allowing the suspended students to return to school and releasing the pending results without court involvement. However, the students expressed their intention to continue with the legal proceedings despite Rapapa’s advice. Students are presently attending classes without any restrictions. “The students are currently going to school without any conditions, but due to an ongoing court case the school did not publish the results,” said Rapapa.

The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the institution, he said, will continue to address this matter without interfering with court proceedings or decisions. “As I speak now, if this issue were not in court, the results would have been published while we would be working on how they would receive their result slips as previously agreed with the institution,” he said.

“However, instead of publishing them, the results have been withheld by the institution due to concerns that the court might order that the results should only be released after payment,” he added. He also spoke on budgetary constraints faced by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS), explaining that the funds allocated by Parliament did not account for the fee increases.

Consequently, there were difficulties in covering these increased fees, prompting the school to request outstanding balances from the students. This situation arose following last month’s expulsion of students from the college’s campuses due to their protests against the institution’s fee increases and the mandate for students to personally settle these fees.

Moreover, the college has received directives to discontinue its policy mandating students to sign contracts promising to clear outstanding balances before being readmitted on campus. Students are petitioning the court to declare that LCE is prohibited from demanding supplementary fees from NMDS-sponsored students. They argue that such fees should be recoverable from the government.

Additionally, they seek an order for the fulfilment of their commitment to cover the entire academic tuition fee for each sponsored student. The students’ body also requests the court should force the secretariat and the institution to engage in negotiations to resolve the fees deadlock within a reasonable timeframe. During these negotiations, the students want LCE to allow them to continue their studies uninterrupted.

Consequently, students have been advised to settle the remaining balances based on their respective programmes. A memo issued by the institution earlier this month explained that the new fee structure was approved by the college council, effective in the 2023 academic year.

According to the adjusted fee structure, the students are required to pay balances ranging from M4,200 to M4,700, in addition to M875 for accommodation to top-up the NMDS payment. Fees for both the Diploma in Education Primary and Diploma in Education Secondary – Arts and Social Sciences have increased from M11,275 to M16,000.

The Diploma in Education Secondary – Applied Science has risen from M13,786 to M18,000, while the Diploma in Education – Pure Science course costs now stand at M18,000, up from M13,786. Hostel fees have also escalated from M5,125 to M6,000. In a notice to students, the college emphasised the importance of settling balances based on their enrolled programmes to avoid further repercussions.

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