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We all aspire to go to Machabeng…

The Reflector

Machabeng College, yet another institution of learning in this country under scrutiny for the wrong reasons as if our country’s educational system has not been through enough strain already.

It’s that dream school for many of our children, even we parents aspire to send our kids there.

Now, don’t misconstrue the following statement, as this school has always cost an arm and a leg to afford.

However, it started looking sketchy during the reigns of J. L. Schwimmer who was brought in about two years ago and promptly decided to suck the life out of every parent’s meagre earnings if they blinked in the direction of the school.

Why do I say this? Well… when students are admitted to the school their admission is contingent on a M12, 000.00 payment to secure their placement. Can you believe it, that’s a lot of dough just to secure placement and in some instances a full year long tuition fee for one child at somewhat good English Medium School, but not Machabeng.

Granted, this M12k is deducted from the overall fee. That would be great if Schwimmer hadn’t given parents the impression that they would be paying approximately M66,000.00 per year, even during the Covid-19 era when no one was physically in class.

I know what you are thinking, Schwimmer definitely knows how’s to rake in funds for the upkeep of the school and must have been able to keep Machabeng’s standard intact with so much dough at her disposal.

Break down the fee structure you get government levy book fee which could come up to M3,000, registration fee of M1,440, a computer fee of M1,050, a development fee of M8,100, and if you were boarding ±M51,000, and examination fee of ±M9,000 for IGCSE and ±M14,000 for IB and let’s not forget the fact you as a parent are expected to provide your child with a tablet, and not just any old tablet.

You are expected to provide a MacBook Pro or Air as a set minimum requirement for your child. And the amounts just keep rising with every extramural your little one would be interested in.

Now, you’d think with all these monies flowing in that someone would be motivated to ensure that the school was running properly so that she would continue milking the cash cow.

But not Schwimmer, instead under her reign there’s maladministration claims, accreditation losses, staff grievances mainly levelled at the her as Head Mistress and fee disputes as she had apparently increased fees with more than 5 percent increment agreed upon by Ministry of Education to an amount entirely her own.

We could argue that the fee structure made sense. This is an international college after all and it will ensure your child will get enrolment in at least Yale or Harvard… wait, no it won’t.

And to add insult to injury, parents are robbed daylight as they pay all these hefty amounts while their children are interacting with their teachers virtually. Remember its covid-19 times and everything is done virtually.

They pay even book fees for materials that could be gotten online free of charge or at a modest fee. They paid development fees for sports and recreational grounds nobody was even on. Computer fees while also expecting parents to have computers and MacBooks at home. How does any of that make sense? A whole lot of tosh.

Don’t worry though. The Board of Governors addressed a lot of issues at the meeting held at Machabeng this past week. Yes, they have every intention of fixing what Schwimmer should have been trying to fix to begin with.

Though the Board did not expressly say that the Head Mistress would not be reinstated, they did say that her contract would be up come end of July and considering that parents and the staff do not necessarily want her back, her contract expiration just might stick.

The Board also created a Committee to help deal with the accreditation issue. How are they going to deal with it, you ask?

Well, they are going to do what they were supposed to be doing all along. I could probably pin that on the Head Mistress as well but why is no one keeping tabs on this school other than the institutions threatening their international accreditation?

No one else thought it prudent, not even the board itself, to see to it that the school kept up with the rules so this very thing did not happen?

Wait a minute, the Head Mistress is said to have been the law unto herself at Machabeng.

Schwimmer makes me remember the National University of Lesotho and its Vice Chancellor Professor Sharon Sieverts who was believed to be a white woman with all answers until her antics as she went on the rampage and tarnished the university’s name.

The accreditations Machabeng sucks all your blood’s worth for are the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools (NEAS) accreditations. The very ones it has now lost.

Honestly though, losing your accreditations isn’t that big a deal if you plan for your child to never set foot in an international school, that is.

Should a school lose its accreditation, colleges and universities may not recognize their diplomas or the credits obtained in high school.

Meaning if you want your child to ever go to a school or university outside the country, international accreditations such as the CIS, NEAS and IBO are crucial… which brings me back to why no one was checking that this very thing did not end up happening.

In the meantime, it is business as usual. Students continue to go to school and hope the accreditation issue gets sorted out before they have to leave school.

As for the maladministration claims, the Board could not make a comment on the matter without first investigating but they are committed to getting to the bottom of it. Hopefully they’ll do so before the end of July when contracts are up and the school loses its educators.

But other than this giant zit on its face, Machabeng is an elite institution and every parent wants to send their kids there…right?


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