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NUL must change or sink into irrelevance

THE National University of Lesotho (NUL), the country’s biggest institute of learning, has once again bungled.
This time it failed to properly organise supplementary examinations, an exercise that is a permanent feature on its institutional calendar.
The timetable was a mess and some exam papers were delayed. Examination rooms were not properly allocated and invigilators were not hired.
Given such bedlam, will the university begrudge anyone who questions the integrity of those supplementary examinations?
We think not.
As normally happens when things don’t work well at the university, the blame-game is already in full swing.
Some stakeholders are pointing long fingers at each other.
Blame it on Vice-Chancellor Professor Sharon Siverts, the Lesotho University Teachers and Researchers Union (Lutaru) said predictably.
The official line from the management is that it’s the lack of money that is to blame.
But some say the lecturers contributed to the mess because they failed to submit the results of the initial examinations on time.
We have no interest in playing this blame game.
But what we know for sure is that this mess cannot be allowed to continue.
If the university cannot come up with a faultless timetable for examinations then one wonders how it can be expected to fulfill its more important role of educating the nation.
How can a university that fails to properly allocate rooms for examinations be expected to produce competent graduates?
We have said it in the past and will say it again, that NUL should not be allowed to continue on this self-destructive path.
Being a national university funded by taxpayers, NUL owes a lot to this nation.
That is why stakeholders must stop this blame-shifting game and start pulling the institution out of the mess into which it has been sinking for the past 20 years.
The failure to properly organise examinations is a clear sign that NUL is now in a state of paralysis.
For the past three decades NUL has been taking giant steps towards its own demise.
Finances are not in order, infighting is the order of the day, strikes are a vocation and competent staff is leaving in droves.
The result: money is tight, standards have plunged, infrastructure has decayed and the curriculum has remained largely unchanged.
And now basic things like supplementary examinations are being affected.
The net effect of all this is a university falling apart.
That is why we find it unfortunate that even in light of these crises Lutaru is throwing spanners into efforts to restructure the university.
For the past few weeks they have been girding their loins, ready to fight Siverts.
A disruptive and belligerent union is the last thing that the university needs now.
No one doubts that Lutaru might have genuine concerns.
Yet pelting stones at Siverts and her management will not get those grievances addressed.
Neither will it help the urgent agenda of restructuring NUL into a better university.
If anything, Lutaru’s aggressive tactics only serve to delay the positive change that the university urgently needs.
At the moment NUL has two options: it can either change or sink into irrelevance.
For now change is the option on the table but it might not be there for too long.
Lutaru can help negotiate the change they want to see.
Option two doesn’t look so negotiable.

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