A new kind of battle

A new kind of battle

MASERU – AT any other time the decision by the National University of Lesotho’s Senate to suspend examinations and teaching activities would have triggered violent protests from students. That no burning of tyres and picketing has happened at the NUL campus since Monday is a sign that this is a different battle management and students have to fight together and not against each other.
And indeed for the first time in a long time management and students are fighting from one corner. What brings them together is “fear and common interests”.

Those, according to Napoleon Bonaparte, are the “only two forces that unite men”.
A cut in the subvention affects both students and management.
For management it means scrounging around for pennies to keep things moving. When push comes to shove it might mean cutting both programmes and jobs.

For students it means having to make do without books, learning tools and lecturers.
It is about learning in dilapidated buildings, sitting on rotting chairs and being crammed like sardines in stuffy lecture rooms.
But for the students the cut in subvention might have much more serious consequences. Without a government grant the university will have to jerk up the tuition to keep its doors open. And nothing scares a university student like an increase in fees.
That is why Thato Ponya, secretary general of the Student Representative Council (SRC), says “we are standing by the Senate and the management on this one”.

“We know that when there is no subvention the university will come for our empty pockets. We cannot afford an increase in tuition,” he says.
“The concerns from the Senate are legitimate and we have to support them because if we don’t we will be the ones to suffer.”
“It is refreshing to see that the Senate is now raising the same concerns we have been raising for years”.
“We have common interests in these matters. We stand together on this one.”

Ponya says although the decision will affect students in the short term “it is pain we can accept because the consequences of continuing without a government grant are dire”. He says the students hope that the Senate and the government will find common ground soon so they write their examinations.

“This is the last months we are getting our allowances from the government so any further delay in the examinations means we will have to raise money for food and accommodation. We therefore appeal to the stakeholders to treat this issue as urgent because students will be affected.”
Ponya says the SRC is likely to meet on Friday to discuss to discuss how students will respond if the government does not increase the subvention.

Staff Reporter

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