Rescue our university

Rescue our university

THE decision by the Senate to suspend academic activities at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) should come as an embarrassment to the government. It must serve as a wake-up call on the government to act with speed to resolve the institution’s financial woes. The university has been in financial doldrums for years.

For the first time, we are having a crisis at the NUL which has nothing to do with protests from disgruntled students over payouts. The issues that the Senate is raising are fundamental issues that are at the centre of any functional university.
In a press statement released on Monday, the NUL Senate is not impressed by the lackluster approach from the government in terms of funding the university’s projects.

In fact, we sense some exasperation from the Senate over what it says is a “systematic crippling of the university” by the government.
The Senate is miffed that over the years since the 2008/9 financial year, the university’s allocation of funds has continued to be whittled down.
The Senate says this is now having a disastrous consequence on the university’s ability to function properly.

The government subvention has fallen from M132 million in the 2008/9 financial year to M110 million in the 2016/2017 year. This has now been further reduced to a paltry M99 million in the current financial year.
The Senate believes the decision to cut the subvention is a clear indication of the government’s “devaluation of higher education in Lesotho”.
It feels the current situation has therefore become untenable hence the decision to suspend all academic activities at the Roma campus until the government acts to salvage the situation.

Of course others might argue the Senate has over-reacted in taking this drastic action and must give dialogue with the government a chance.
We would however like to believe that the pressure to get the government to act was long overdue. The government must rectify the situation to ensure a speedy return to normalcy at Roma.

Of course the suspension of the university’s academic activities is a huge embarrassment for the coalition government that was swept into power on the back of huge promises to do things differently and deliver better services to Basotho.
Much more was expected from the government to support the university, which is a key national institution.
The truth of the matter is that we cannot afford to let the NUL collapse. It is a strategic national institution that lies at the core of who we are as Basotho and what we intend to be in the next 50 years and beyond.

It is precisely for this reason that we expect an emergency response from the government to save our beloved university in Roma.
That the Senate was forced to suspend all academic activities at the campus is a clear indication of its desperate cries for help. The government must listen and do something to rescue the situation.

The suspension of activities at the NUL could send the wrong signal to Basotho that the government has either neglected its core responsibility or does not care about the future of the country. We would like to think none of the above is true.

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