Varsity to set up water institute

Varsity to set up water institute

Rose Moremoholo

Maseru

THE National University of Lesotho (NUL) is setting up a water institute to train Basotho on the best ways of protecting the country’s water interests.

This was revealed by Dr Molisana Molisana, the NUL’s Director Development and Academic Planning, quality assurance and accreditation last week.

“As the university, we realise the importance of water in our nation. Water is white gold and we are aware that its value far surpasses that of fuel and other natural resources and we are not using the resource given to us to advance the economic growth of the country. We need to lead,” Molisana said.

The institute is expected to start operating next year and shall offer post-graduate Masters’ degrees.

The idea, Molisana said, is to eventually offer degrees to PhD level.

IMG_6229“This is because there are multiple pathways to get into a programme. We already have students in science, geography and other engineering courses which can be directed to focus on the engineering and economics that is relevant to the exploitation of water,” Molisana said.

He said “the mission is to build the capacity of Lesotho to manage its water resources to answer to the economic growth, employment and other national strategic development plans where the institution shall meet these objectives”.

Molisana said the most important step in the exploitation of the water resource is to develop human capital and to do research “and these are the roles of the university”.

“We say, here is a resource and we have to have the capacity to manage this resource and that calls for economists, the development of water engineers and to understand the politics of water,” Molisana said.

He said the politics of water arise because water is a shared resource therefore needs to be treated with utmost care and political sensitivity because, “South Africa will question our exclusive rights to exploit water and this needs to be communicated well between the countries”.

The university wants to build national capacity to exploit the resource and it has written and developed a concept paper in partnership with the Water Centre in Zimbabwe and the Netherlands in the presence of the head of UNESCO in Zimbabwe.

The paper was presented to stakeholders that include the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission, Water Aid, units of government in the Water Affairs Ministry and invited water experts.

Molisana said they are well aware of the competition they have in the neighboring country.

“The University of Natal is regarded as the centre of excellence in water and most of the water experts we have obtained their qualifications there,” Molisana said.

“We are also aware of the Institute of Water at the University of Pretoria and this institute follows the strategic plan 2015/2020 of the school where the mission identifies needs of research and training,” he said.

Another mission is the setting up of the Moshoeshoe Institute of Leadership which will be operating in the next two to three years.

Molisana said the reason for setting up these missions is because the university has read and studied the strategic goals of the NSDP and “has identified our objectives in our strategic plan and then aligned them to the goals of the NSDP”.

“We realised that calls for the development of appropriate curriculum were the concerns of the Minister of Education,” Molisana said.

The Minister of Education, Dr Mahali Phamotse, has for a long time raised concerns over the curriculum offered by universities in Lesotho. She has in the past urged universities to respond to the economic needs of the country.

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