According to a 2017 Council of Higher Education (CHE) report issued released last week, a total of 7,379 new students were admitted at higher education institution (HEIs) in 2016/2017 and 49.1 percent were males while the rest were females. The report said that only 52 percent of the students were able pass their first year.
It indicated that many students fail the first year and others end up dropping out of school altogether, as a result. However, this should not be the end of the world.
Twenty three-year old ‘More Ralefifi, owner of clothing brand Blank Slide, is an example of a first year drop out who did not allow his circumstances to hold him back.
Ralefifi, now a renowned artist and brand producer of caps handcrafted with the Seanamarena blanket prints, says like any other Mosotho child, he too had his own dreams before dropping out at Lerotholi Polytechnic in 2016.
“I thought my life had gone up in smoke as the National Manpower Development Secretariat could not sponsor me anymore. I would see my friends going to school while I wasn’t; so I knew there and then that I needed to come up with a plan to get my life back on track. I had many ideas, but no startup money.
“Then hey presto! I suddenly envisioned people wearing garments inspired by the Seanamarena blankets and decided that maybe I could use the same concept to design caps,” he said.
He says breaking into the market was difficult, and that the only people who knew about his business were his friends. This necessitated robust marketing, which he embarked on courtesy of social media and social clubs like Nala Project.
Ralefifi explains that Nala Project helped him market his brand internationally as he met many clients from outside Lesotho who were fascinated with his work and how it expresses the ethnicity and uniqueness of Basotho.
“I did not know that so many people would be captivated by our culture so it really made me feel very proud of myself as a Mosotho. At the moment, I have five clothing stores that I work with and my target for this year is to at least double the number,” Ralefi said.
He advised young people who have failed or yet to fail, to embrace failure as a chance for a clean slate and a new beginning.
Ralefifi went back to school in 2018 to study logistic at the Institute of Development Management. He said he wanted to learn more about the exporting of goods now that he is in business.
“I will soon be in a position to employ many other people because it is really my dream to be an example to many other young people like me who had the same challenges,” he concluded.