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Closure Chaos: Damelin College Shuts without Student Notice

Published March 30, 2024
2 months ago

In a revelation that has jarred the student community, the Department of Higher Education’s deregistration of multiple Educor-owned institutions, including Damelin College, has rattled the lives of learners enrolled there. A second-year business student from Damelin College's Braamfontein campus was abruptly confronted with the grim reality of their educational institution ceasing operations, an alarm raised not by school authorities but through a news website's reporting. This disclosure has intensified the worries and confusion among students about their academic and professional futures.

The decree from the Department of Higher Education, overseen by Minister Blade Nzimande, followed an extensive thirteen-year investigative period into the institutes which comprise CityVarsity, Icesa City Campus and Lyceum College, all under the Educor banner. Despite the years-long probe resulting in extensions for Educor to address undisclosed issues, the resolution was seemingly unmet, culminating in the stripping of their registration.

Educor's alleged operational deficiencies extend beyond regulatory adherence, encapsulating financial uncertainties and academic inadequacies. This was evident from frequent student complaints regarding the quality of education, administration, and the handling of grievances—many of which linger unresolved. Instances of corruption, unsatisfactory teaching methods, and delays in compensating staff only worsen the Educor image, inflicting reputational damage that students fear may taint their qualifications.

The failure to provide annual financial statements and tax clearance certificates for two consecutive years (2021 and 2022), as required by the minister, reflects questions on financial stability, according to the statements. This transgression, coupled with the systemic issues laid bare by feedback from the Educor community, depicts an institution falling far from the pillars of credibility and accountability.

Experts like Ahmed Essop, a research associate at the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies, are left perplexed by the apparent leniency extended by the department to Educor over the years, pointing to a lapse in enforcement that may have otherwise identified and rectified financial mismanagement sooner.

In light of these events, organizations like the South African Union of Students and the South African Federation of Trade Unions are advocating for mechanisms to not only secure the future of affected students but to address the employment predicament of the institutes' workforce. Proposals suggest deregistration for students from the faulty institutes and even nationalizing the education entities to preserve employment.

As personal narratives emerge showcasing the human cost of Educor's dysfunction, reflections on the saga underscore the essentiality of transparency and regulative enforcement in the education sector. Seeking rectification and justice, the student body, supported by unions and academics, now looks to the department for guidance and remediation, as the road to recovery spells an immediate need for reevaluation, reassurance and possibly, reinstitution.

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