In the wake of student unrests that have been rocking Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE) last week, the Assistant Minister of Education and Skills Development, Dr Unity Dow on Friday issued a savingram ordering that the institution be closed until further notice.
The students embarked on a massive strike this past week accusing the school management of turning a deaf ear to their grievances. They were complaining of among others, Diploma courses that are not accredited, unpaid allowances and even failure by management to give them protective clothing for their school projects. As the students protested on Thursday last week, there was a heavy presence of the Police and the Special Support Group (SSG) in armored vehicles to try and contain the situation at the institution. In an interview with The Telegraph on Friday, the Student Representative Council (SRC) President at FCTVE, Tebo Tlhobogang said that they were served with a savingram from the Assistant Minister stating that the college will be closed until further notice on Friday.
“We received the savingram from the Assistant Minister on Friday morning. The reason why we embarked on this strike is because the college management has been sitting on our problems for a long time. One of the burning issues is that we have long requested the institution to serve us with evidence that all the courses at the institution are accredited and management is not coming forth to do so,” he said.
He also said a number of students have not been receiving their allowances for a long time. Tlhobogang also decried the tendency by the institution to make students write exams and then fail to release their results.
“The strange part is that despite failure to release these results, students are allowed to progress with course levels as if everything is normal. This raises eyebrows on whether the courses that we are doing are accredited or not. The closure of the institution is unfortunate but it will also be unfair for us to continue with our studies without assurance that the courses are accredited. We are also of the view that the school management does not take our grievances seriously and does not have the welfare of students at heart,” added Tlhobogang.
Reached for comment, the Director of Regional Education in the North East Region, Galesengwe Mohube said the ministry closed down the institution due mounting unrest.
“The Minister of Education and Skills Development Dr Unity Dow issued a savingram that the institution be closed until further notice due to the student unrest at the institution. The situation was getting out of hand hence the closure of the institution,” he said.
The state of the art institution which is located in Gerald Estates, in the outskirts of Francistown was established in 2008 and was funded by the European Union (EU) in collaboration with government. Mohube said the situation at the institution was getting worse each day and there were reports of vandalism of college property, violence by some students and threats. He said some students threatened those who wanted to attend classes. He further said the law enforcement authorities, being the police and special support group had to be roped in to monitor the worrying situation.
“When you tender grievances, you have to give the authorities an opportunity to address them, therefore the students were not attending classes despite the fact that their grievances were with the authorities. They were even vandalizing school property and some were threatening those who wanted to attend classes. Therefore the ministry was left with no choice but to close the institution until further notice,” he emphasized.