Monday, June 1, 2020

Inside how Gov’t paid a Flying Academy millions for unaccredited courses

BY CEDRIC SWANKA

That a local flight academy – International Aviation Solutions (IAS) has been placed under judicial management is old news. What is fresh from the parliament oven though is that atleast P150 million of tax payer’s money was paid to a troubled academy now facing closure due to compliance issues.

The company owning the academy has failed to acquire required qualifications to continue offering complete programmes to aspiring pilots. The company is reported to have experienced compliance issues in 2018, which prompted the Botswana Qualifications Authority – BQA to issue the intention to revoke its accreditation. Its current accreditation will expire in the first week of August 2018.

In the last two years IAS has not been allowed to enrol new students, but was expected to teach-out those already enrolled.

As it stands, the 168 IAS students who were paid for by the government are partially qualified but unable to finish up their studies due to the placement of the academy under judicial management in July 2019.

It has since emerged that the academy, owned by controversial businessman Teezzarh Seduke is not in an operational position that could see students being trained in accordance with Botswana Civil Aviation Regulations, (BCAR) set standards and safety considerations.

This week, Moiseraela Goya junior minister at Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOTE) said that 101 students have graduated at the academy.

“They graduated with Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). Some of them are already employed with this licence. However they have not acquired all the necessary licenses such as Multi Engine Rating and Instrument Flying Rating (IFR). In this regard we are concerned about the delay in the completion of the programme and my ministry through the Botswana Qualification Authority has engaged the education and training provider and it is evident that the ETP is struggling to provide the service as expected”, Goya told Parliament.

The 168 students were paid for by the government through the Department of Tertiary Education Financing with the money spent mainly on tuition and living allowances.

Still at Parliament, Goya hinted that the government is considering ending business relations with the academy.

“We are currently in consultation with the Attorney General on the most suitable interventions that will safeguard the interest of the learners and the Government as an interested party”, Goya said.

DOUBLE COST

Meanwhile Parliament also learnt that an average cost per student at the troubled academy is pegged at P980 361.05 whilst the same at similar a institution in neighbouring South Africa ranges between P350 147.95 and P685 827.97.

‘We are considering the possibility of transferring these students to other institutions to enable them to complete their training”, Goya continued.

Meanwhile the Judicial Manager of the IAS – Oliver Modise says he has been tasked to ensure continuity of the company with particular interest to protect commercial and contractual rights of the company’s creditors and to enforce action against the company’s debtors for recovery of any funds owed.

In a letter dated 2nd July, Modise said he is obligated to provide periodic reporting to the High Court Registrar on the performance of the company with reference to his duties as the Judicial Manager.

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