MASERU — The government will shut down bogus and unregistered private schools at the end of this month, the Lesotho Times can reveal.
The clampdown could throw hundreds of secondary school pupils into the streets.
There are dozens of unregistered schools that have been operating illegally for the past few years.
There are fears in the education sector that most of the students from the illegal schools might not be able to enrol with properly registered schools.
Many teachers might lose their jobs.
The office of the Attorney-General wrote to the illegal schools on October 18 warning them that they should stop operating by November 30.
The Lesotho Times can confirm that three schools have received the letter.
The Lesotho International College High School and Word of Life High School are among the schools that received the letter.
There are however dozens of other private schools that have been operating illegally and are unlikely to meet the stringent requirement for registration under the recently enacted Education Act 2010.
Many are operating from run-down structures and have no proper ablution facilities.
Most of the illegal private schools do not have qualified teachers and they are not registered at examination centres.
“It is apparent that your school has
intentionally failed, neglected or ignored this Act as it is operating illegally,” says a letter from the Attorney General’s office to one of the schools.
“Kindly be informed that you are given up to the 30th November 2010 to comply with this Act, failing compliance therewith, our further instructions are to proceed to court without notice for an order for closure of your school.”
This is not the first time that the illegal schools have been warned about the impending closure.
In November the ministry of education wrote letters reminding the illegal schools that they needed to register if they wanted to continue operating.
A founding member of another private school, Word of Faith High School in Thetsane, has confirmed that they received a similar letter.
Pastor Lefa Monaheng of Zoe Bible Church said upon realising that prospects of registering Word of Faith High School were slim his church stopped affiliating with the school.
“I now do not have anything to do with the school because it cannot be registered,” Pastor Monaheng said.
“It does not belong to me as a person and it does not belong to the church anymore,” he said.
Pastor Monaheng is the secretary of three Zoe Bible Church-owned schools.
Education Minister ’Mamphono Khaketla said the ministry will not allow unregistered schools to enrol students next year.
“There is not even a single unqualified school that will operate next year,” she said.
“There are enough registered schools with which we encourage parents to enrol their children.”
She however said the ministry might be lenient to some schools whose registration is under process.
Such schools, Khaketla said, will have to satisfy the ministry that they will qualify for registration and in the meantime they will only be allowed to run their Form C and Form E classes.
“Students who are not in those classes will have to go to other schools because we are not going to allow any unregistered school next year,” Khaketla said.
Khaketla said a government gazette issued earlier this year has a list of registered schools.
There are 324 secondary and high schools registered with the education ministry countrywide, according to the gazette.
Khaketla said parents should check if a school is registered before they enrol their children.
For a school to be registered under the Education Act 2010 it must have a board of directors and a constitution approved by the Ministry of Education.
It has to have proof of title to the land on which it is located.
The buildings and facilities must meet the government’s standards.
It has to show its financial position at the time of registration and proof that it has money to sustain itself.
Education ministry officials say most of the unregistered schools do not meet these conditions and are unlikely to meet them by November 30.
The Lesotho Teachers’ Trade Union (LTTU) spokesperson, Vuyani Tyhali, said the unregistered schools deserve to be closed because they are “spoiling the education sector”.
“Some schools open today and close overnight because they are not formally registered and nobody is accountable for their wrongdoing,” Tyhali said.
“They open with the sole purpose of enriching their proprietors and they charge exorbitant fees,” he said.
“By so doing they are defrauding the nation.”