Rapturous send-off for medical students

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THE ministers and some of the medical students pose for a group portrait yesterday.
THE ministers and some of the medical students pose for a group portrait yesterday.

Pascalinah Kabi and Limpho Sello

EDUCATION and Training Minister Dr Mahali Phamotse yesterday urged medical students going to Zambia and Zimbabwe for training to remain focused given the sacrifices made for their education.

The minister made the remark during a colourful farewell ceremony in Maseru for 31 students set for Copperbelt University School of Medicine and 44 fourth and fifth-year students returning to the University of Zimbabwe (UZ).

The Zambia-bound students had been enrolled at the Lesotho School of Medicine (LSoM), but their future had been thrown into disarray after it emerged the institution, which was established in 2014, did not meet the required international standards.

A Quality Assurance Committee of the Lesotho Council on Higher Education sealed LSoM’s fate last year when it recommended the school should not be accredited to train doctors as it did not have the capacity to produce such specialised personnel.

After the recommendation, LSoM stopped enrolling its second intake that was supposed to start on its programme in September 2015.

The students’ fate had remained in limbo until the government inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zambian government to send the students to the Ndola-based institute. In line with the agreement, Copperbelt University School of Medicine officials visited Lesotho last month to assess the students and determine the levels at which they would be enrolled.

Of the 31 students, 10 are expected to fly to Zambia today, while the rest are set to leave in the coming days. The Harare-bound contingent, which had already started their studies with the UZ under a previous agreement between the two countries, is scheduled to leave before the end of the month.

Dr Phamotse said finding places for the students after the closure of LSoM had been a mammoth task.

“I am glad that this day is finally a reality. I hope you are going to make us proud by working hard and proving to us that we didn’t make a mistake with all the efforts we made to send you to school,” she said.

“I am informed that the Zambian inspectors came in to assess you. They found out that there were some programmes which you didn’t cover and this will put some of you a year behind.”

The minister said the students should remain focused on the task before them.

“I would like to urge you to take the opportunity you have very seriously and remember that you have to come back home when you have finished your studies,” she said.

Also in attendance was Health Minister, Dr ‘Molotsi Monyamane, who also implored the students to keep their feet firmly on the ground during the course of their studies.

“When you get there, avoid alcohol, drugs and love affairs. Your time to engage in such activities will come. You need to remember at all times why you are in those countries, so don’t get too excited,” he said.

“I am glad to note that we now have more than 50 potential medical doctors and I am sure you will all come back to serve the people. Stick to your commitment to come home after completing your studies.”

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