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LP says NMDS owes it M25 million

….Student protests disrupt final exams

‘Masetleka Matjekesa and Lineo Mahlomola

Final examinations have been disrupted at the Lerotholi Polytechnic (LP) following violent student protests over pending tuition fee payment by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).

During a press conference yesterday, the management of LP revealed that NMDS owes the institution M25 million in outstanding tuition fee increments dating back to the 2021/22 academic year, which is the reason behind the student protests.

“The total amount owed by NMDS to the school is about M25 million, and M6 Million of which is from the previous year,” LP bursar Teko Seboko said.

During the student protests, which broke out on June 20, the institution’s and employees’ property was vandalised, the school management said.

The students went on a rampage after the NMDS informed the school that it would not cover the pending tuition fees as requested by the institution, because the number of students admitted was not endorsed by the government.

LP responded by requesting the assistance of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service, which has since deployed its personnel at the school to put the situation under control.

The school management said as a result of the unfavourable NMDS response, they had to postpone their end-of-year examinations by a week.

The exams were initially scheduled to begin on June 19, and when they eventually took place this week, they were disrupted by protests.

Professor Sepiriti Tlali, the LP Rector told the same press conference that they received NMDS correspondence on April 25 informing them about their inability to settle the outstanding tuition fees for the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 academic years.

“The letter from NMDS informed us that they are not going to be able to pay tuition fees, even though we had been in talks with them about it since 2021.

“We had admitted students that are sponsored by NMDS because in our long history of working with them, they sometimes delay paying fees because of budget constraints, and we thought they will still pay this time,” said Tlali.

The issue of outstanding student fees has since been escalated to the ministries of Education and Finance for resolution, Tlali said.

He further said that students with outstanding fees have been allowed to write examinations, although the school will withhold their examination results until the debt is settled.

Contacted for comment, NMDS director Florinah Rakeketsi was not reachable as her phone rang unanswered.

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