Sunday, September 27, 2020

Shenanigans alleged at the Francistown Vocational College

The Sunday Standard has learnt that the Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education, which was officially opened last year October but has been operating for the past three years, is experiencing problems with enrolling new students.

The FCTVE currently has enrolled 199 students in 7 different departments. An inside source revealed to the Sunday Standard that even though 3 other departments have not enrolled any students so far, more than 10 lecturers continue to make “check spots” at the College’s teaching facilities with no classes to teach.

The Sunday Standard has established that the Department of Construction has 5 lecturers, while the Clothing Design and Textile Department also has 5 lecturers, whereas the Department of Health and Social Care is headed by a single foreign lady.

The mentioned lecturers, however, continue to benefit from the government’s payroll and have been paid scarce skills allowances by the government.

In an interview, the College principal, Mr. Onkabetse Fisher Ntshebe, said, “You people don’t understand that we do not operate like a secondary school. Just because the College has been built and opened does not mean students will immediately be enrolled; there are approval documents that have to be prepared.”

Ntshebe denied that there were any lecturers who were currently idle at the college, stating that all departments were functioning well.
“We have to be approved before we can enroll students.”

A source at the college who declined to be named told us that all students from the IT Department and Hospitality and Tourism Department were currently away on attachment and the lecturers remain only to check on them from time to time at their respective places of attachment.

She also revealed that currently the Departments of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering and Sports and Leisure have only enrolled 16 students each.

“The Health and Beauty Department has no students in the college right now, except only about thirty two who are on distance learning,” she said.

Ntshebe could not comment any further on the issue. In response to a questionnaire sent to the college earlier, Ntshebe replied giving the Sunday Standard a little history and “over view” of the college, and only answer a couple of the questions posed. He insisted that the “information” he had availed us covered everything anyone would want to know about the school.

Another source from the institution shared the same sentiments with the other lady initially interviewed by Sunday Standard.

Also declining to be named, she confirmed that, indeed, the institution had about 10 lecturers from different departments who don’t have students to teach. She, however also pointed out that two departments, the Sports and Health Departments, are still new though, adding that this was due to the programmes not having been approved yet. She attributed the delay to the Principal Technical Educational Officer not being qualified.

“He doesn’t do anything himself so he asks the person responsible for evaluating and re-validating,” she said.

“The last I heard, the person who is responsible for the programmes was busy with tenders, something totally out of his league,” she asserted.

During the first interview, the source also pointed out that the person at Headquarters, the Principal Technical Education Officer, was not qualified for his responsibilities.

The two sources alleged that corruption was everywhere at the institution, maintaining that the person responsible for tenders “inflated prices”, giving an example of an instance when an electric iron had been valued at over a thousand pula.

Ntshebe maintained that the laid down government tender processes are strictly adhered to and are approved by the Ministerial Tender Committee.

The other source, however, said that they have since requested for the goods that have been bought at the school to be declared by the rightful authorities.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MOESD) was contacted for comment and Godfrey Kalanke of the MOESD Public Relations Unit asserted that the ministry was not aware of the situation at the college but said he would follow the issue up.

Subsequent attempts to follow up on Kalanke were fruitless as he was said to be at workshops and meetings. None of the messages left for him by Sunday Standard were responded to at the time of going to press.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.