COTA Management Looks for Scapegoats

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Two lecturers were yesterday summoned to appear before the management committee of the College of the Arts allegedly as scapegoats for the institution’s obvious inability to resolve the issue of non-accreditation of four courses with the National Qualification Authority. Yesterday morning emotionally charged students of the African Performing Arts Department were gathered outside the meeting venue in solidarity with the two lecturers. The Head of the African Performing Art Department and a music lecturer at COTA had been ‘invited’ yesterday to explain their personal roles and that of the Oruuano Artists Union in the formation of the non-accredited APA course. Banana Shekupe is the president of the legally registered artist union and Dominic Lunenge is an executive board member. This action is allegedly the result of a hotly debated meeting with lecturers earlier this week in which the tears of students flowed due to the fact that in a month’s time they will be writing their final examinations for the non-accredited diploma course. “The management cannot blame the two lecturers for the present problems with regard to the non-accreditation, something the College of the Arts had been happily going with for the past three years. The college is obviously looking for scapegoats to cover up for its own failures,” said Salvador Dore, the PRO of the Src of the college. In a letter dated July 21 and signed by vice-rector, Erina Junius, the Head of the African Performing Arts diploma course, Banana Shekupe, and Dominic Lunenge, were summoned to appear before the management committee of COTA. “It has come to our attention that a number of African Performing Arts students are under the strong belief that promises regarding guaranteed passing of courses, automatic qualification and guaranteed job employment were made. At no stage was the College of the Arts mandated to make such promises, neither did it make such promises,” Junius wrote in the letter of which Art/Life has a copy. In the letter she also claimed that Oruuano Artist Union as a student-recruiting agent was responsible for making promises, not COTA. “We have irrefutably been informed that it was in fact through recruiting agents, which in this case was Oruuano Artists Union, that made these promises. In addition, it is apparent the pre-requirement of a Grade 12 certificate for acceptance into a diploma course has been ignored,” she said. She requested the two lecturers, who are both executive members of the legally registered artist union rectify the promises they allegedly made on behalf and under the supervision of the College of the Arts. The question is why did the College of the Arts for the past three years happily go along with the APA course. “In my opinion the Student Representative Council should have been allowed to attend the meeting that is being held because we are involved in the matter. However, this problem will not be resolved without the intervention of the director of arts and the new minister of Culture,” said Dore, who also claimed that the issue has had a detrimental effect on their studies. Applied Media, Art Product Development and Theatre Studies are prominently advertised in the College of the Art’s prospectus as legitimate, but not the African Performing Arts course. “Seemingly there are clear moves afoot to pass the buck onto the two lecturers and the artist union in an effort to protect the person that was left in charge of resubmitting an application to National Qualifications Authority,” the PRO said outside the meeting venue. The issue of non-accreditation of the four courses surfaced some two months ago during which time students could not get proper answers from the college authorities. The aggrieved students marched to the NQA offices and demanded answers, but have not received any from COTA via the NQA. Art students feel deceived and deprived of job opportunities apparently promised to them by way of the diploma courses. “The College of the Arts has written a letter to state that the management was giving its attention to the non-accreditation issue. Once that is done I would be expecting a written report on it before I will have talks with the students, hopefully early next week,” said the director of the National Qualifications Authority, Frans Gertze.