New varsity promises to be ‘different’
..Methodist University of Lesotho expected to open in February 2016
Lesotho’s latest university is set to open in February next year following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Methodist Church, Aldersgate University College of the Philippines and India’s Amity University on Thursday in Maseru.
The institution, to be known as the Methodist University of Lesotho, is expected to begin with three faculties namely Business Administration and Management, Social Sciences, and Arts.
According to the head of the Methodist Church in Lesotho, Bishop Daniel Rantle, the varsity is “a milestone in the church’s pursuit of academic excellence”.
Bishop Rantle on Friday told the Sunday Express: “Fifty-three years ago, there was a meeting of leaders of the church, and although they couldn’t read or write, they established a primary school [Methodist Primary] in Moshoeshoe II.
“Then in the 80s, another meeting was held where the Methodist High School was established, and now we are in the process of setting-up a university.”
Bishop Rantle explained there was demand from students who attend the church’s schools across the country, for educational programmes that are not offered by Lesotho’s other institutions of higher learning.
“That is why the church saw the need to open this university and contribute towards Lesotho’s higher learning sphere.”
However, Bishop Rantle emphasised that the university would not base its enrolment on religion “because we have different denominations at all our school, so for us, one’s belief is a non-starter”.
The church, he noted, had 10 schools in Maseru and Mafeteng districts, which he said were open to the entire community.
“We serve the entire community where our schools are located. Religion is not a factor when looking at an individual and his capabilities,” Bishop Rantle explained.
Asked if the university had already been accredited with the relevant government departments, Bishop Rantle said the Council of Higher Education (CHE) “has been with us every step of the way”.
With Lesotho already having tertiaries such as the National University of Lesotho (NUL), Lerotholi Polytechnic, and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT), Bishop Rantle told the Sunday Express that the Methodist Church University would be “different” in both its programmes and operations.
“We will be different since we would have what is called a block-release system.
“This system allows students to continue working while studying and also allows those who are not employed to be attached at different workplaces during the course of their studies.
“The students are still going to have the same credit hours required for a diploma, degree, masters or PHD qualification.”
According to Bishop Rantle, the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) would be approached to fund their students the same way the institution sponsors other tertiary learners.
Meanwhile, the African representative of Aldersgate University College and Amity University, Professor Washington Mahiya, who was present during Thursday’s signing ceremony of the MoU, said: “This MoU will help enhance the capacity to dispatch the best education in Lesotho; it is our responsibility as academics to improve the conditions of humanity.
“As Director of AUC and AUP in Africa, it is my strong contention that Lesotho is endowed with enough development potential that servant leaders with native wisdom may process and deploy to launch success.”
*About Aldersgate University College and Amity University.
Aldersgate University College was founded in 1965 by Methodist leaders Pilar D Galima and Froilan B Calata. The college, which opened as a church school under the jurisdiction of the Northern Philippines Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, was incorporated in 1970. The school was named after a street in London where John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had a pivotal spiritual experience. The college offers programs in basic education, along with programmes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Amity University was formed in 2003 by Ashok Chauhan, and was India’s first private university slated to implement reservations based on caste etc, for both faculty as well as students. The school started with an enrolment of 120 students; in 2011 it had 80000 students in 240 programmes and now has more than 125 000 students from all over the world.