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Limkokwing University crisis deepens

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

MASERU — The crisis at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) is set to deepen this week after revelations that the varsity was planning to call lecturers from sister universities in the region to avert a strike by local staff.
The lecturers at the Maseru campus have already announced plans to embark on an industrial action starting tomorrow to press management to hire more lecturers to relieve them of what they alleged was a heavy workload.
But the LUCT has already made plans to call for help from outside the country to avert paralysis at the university.
The university’s corporate secretary, Tefo Macheli, told the Sunday Express that they intended to summon lecturers from other universities to carry on with lectures.
“We are fully aware of the lecturers’ strike and that it is a lawful one. However, we will do everything we can to ensure that students are not affected by the strike,” Macheli said.
“Lecturers from other campuses will come to take over while local teachers are on strike.”
He said it was still not clear how many lecturers will come from outside to fill the gap to be left by the striking lecturers.
“We have also heard that not all the teachers will join the strike. Classes will start once we have assessed the situation and we are satisfied that it is safe,” Macheli said.
But some local lecturers who spoke to the Sunday Express warned lecturers from other campuses against taking up their jobs or “nature will take its course”.
LUCT academic staff union spokesperson, Malefetsane Nchaka, said the striking lecturers want the invited lecturers to back off.
“They should stay away. This is our land. We do not need them to disturb us. They have fought their own struggles in the same way we are doing. They should let us deal with the problem,” Nchaka said.
He said the purpose of the strike was to force management to address their grievances.
The lecturers want management to hire more lecturers to relieve them of “our heavy workload”.
Nchaka said lecturers were being forced to take up extra courses because of a shortage of teaching staff.
He said the university was reluctant to hire more lecturers to ensure it generates “unjustifiable profits”.
“We have appealed to the management to hire more lecturers but they have not done so. When Dr Mohapi (‘Mamolete) pushed that more lecturers should be hired the management reacted by demoting her.
“We are burdened with too much work and so we are not able to perform well,” Nchaka said.
Mohapi, a former director of academics at Limkokwing, resigned two months ago after she was allegedly reassigned to a junior post.
Nchaka said the shortage of lecturers at the university was seriously affecting the quality of education.
“We are close to first semester examinations now with about three to four weeks to go, but some lecturers have not yet started on some modules. Time is limited,” he said.
The lecturers also want management to review their contracts and the way they are issued.
“An employee at Limkokwing is given a one-year contract during the first year. The contract can be renewed for only two years.
“The contract says it can also be automatically terminated. There are no benefits, just our salaries,” Nchaka said.
The lecturers also want the management to lift the “confinement on campus” policy that bars them from leaving the university campus during working hours.
“We are not allowed to leave the campus between 8am and 5pm,” he said.
“We are crammed in a small space and are not able to research well. Besides there is no library and the internet services are poor.”

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