Sunday, April 18, 2021

OLOPENG FREEZES SEDUKE’S PILOT ACADEMY SPONSORSHIP

The Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology Thapelo Olopeng has temporarily terminated government sponsorship contract with International Aviation Solutions (IAS), a school alleged to be linked to Isaac Kgosi and former President Ian Khama.

Parliament records show that One hundred and Fifty one million, Eight hundred and forty-four Thousand, One Hundred and fifty four Pula thirty four thebe (P151, 844,154.34) was spent on IAS between 2013 -2016.

Olopeng’s decision is a big blow to the local business owner Teezar Seduke who has made a number of requests to Olopeng and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane to intervene on behalf of the school.

The Sunday standard has intercepted letters addressed to the then Minister Ngaka Ngaka and current Minister Thapelo Olopeng and Vice President Slumber Tsogwane.

While Minister Olopeng has decided to transfer IAS students to South African schools, the Directorate of Intelligence Solution on the other hand is investigating, amongst others; the stakeholders involved especially the Directorate of Tertiary Education and Financing (DTEF) and BQA connections with South African Schools.

The Sunday standard is in possession of documents revealing investigations of possible abuse of office by MoTE and DTEF executives leading to possible collapse of the school.

Management from Department of Tertiary Education and Financing were on Tuesday locked in a meeting to discuss, amongst others, how they can resolve the issue which has now attracted Intelligence agencies being DISS and DCEC amongst others.

It was after this meeting that the Minister announced the freezing of the sponsorship until BQA concerns are resolved.

In an interview with the Sunday Standard, Olopneg confirmed meeting parents and IAS students where it emerged the school faced compliance issues.

He said following findings of an investigation conducted by a South African consulting firm, Botswana Qualification Authority and a legal team from Ministry of Education he took a decision to transfer students to an unnamed flying school in South Africa. He said it is a special dispensation which comes at a cost to government.

The Minister said he is alive to the fact that the Botswana Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA) is a licensing authority but insists that IAS cannot function without the accreditation of a quality authority like BQA.

“Some parents were angry. They wanted to see their children graduating as pilots but their dreams seemed to be shattered by the IAS as they are taking long to graduate and that is why we took a decision to transfer them to schools of their choice,” said Olopeng

Olopeng said President Mokgweetsi Masisi is aware of the situation and has advised them to try by all means to assist the institution because the school is in line within citizen empowerment programmes.

He said the President has advised them not to frustrate any local schools but to work hard to facilitate and that is why the ministry is not sabotaging the IAS contrary to some people believes.

“If at all the management had lied to me, there are so many ways to tail them. It is true I have met with the IAS management and I remember their lawyer mitigating on their behalf on some corrective measures. We don’t owe them anything. We want them to rise and be honest to themselves, put their books in order then we will sponsor them. This transfer of students is a temporary measure because we cannot allow a situation where students take 4 years to complete a 2-year course,” said Olopeng.

Olopeng said the school should rise up, have enough resources and comply with BQA regulations. Minister Olopeng advised parents and the nation that government sponsorship to IAS is temporarily on hold to allow the school to regularize and put everything in order.

The Sunday Standard can reveal that exchange of letters between DTEF, BQA and IAS which have been circulating for sometime dating back to 2016.

In one letter dated, 04 December 2018, Teezar Seduke appealed to Vice President Tsogwane for intervention.

“We appeal for urgency in convening a meeting to resolve the long standing issues. The remaining student complaints and quality; safety related matters emanate from the lack of resolve on pending issues between the school and MoTE.

IAS believes that the management of DTEF and BQA is hiding the truth from Vice President and Minister Olopeng as an effort to sabotage and tarnish the image of the school. The school management believes that certain employees at DTEF together with others are conniving with some South African officials to transfer students in their respective schools with some hidden benefits attached because the said DTEF official’s contract is coming to an end this year.”

In another letter dated 13th December 2018, the Ministry through Permanent Secretary, Theophilus Mooko refused to pay any extra money arguing that it was the responsibility of the school to pay for any extra hours incurred.

The Director of the school Teezar Seduke said it was an unfortunate incident arguing that they will comply with government decision even though they have long asked for government to pay for some pending balances which has resulted in the school experiencing some issues raised by BQA.

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