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NUL needs you all

LAST week, the National University of Lesotho (NUL)’s senior academic staff wrote to the new Education Minister ’Makabelo Mosothoane petitioning her to send Vice-Chancellor Professor Sharon Siverts packing.
The deans of faculties, the director of Institute of Extra Mural Studies and the librarian say they want Siverts and the NUL council chairman Dr ’Molotsi Monyamane to go because they are underperforming.
In an effort to push their agenda further, they met Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing asking him to throw his weight behind their wants.
Their gripe with Siverts is that she wants to make NUL an “elitist institution” that admits “only the cream of the crop” and they bemoaned the reduction of enrolments at the university.
They complain that she wants to make NUL “an institution such as Yale or Stanford.”
Siverts is painted as someone fighting hard against the progress of the university she is leading.
The deans say NUL is now on the verge of collapse after Siverts took the reins.
She is accused of running the university like her fiefdom.
“Since her appointment Siverts has taken over all offices,”the deans complain.
Dr Monyamane is accused of having “actively promoted the destruction by publicly criticising the university and its staff and not adequately supervising the Vice-Chancellor”.
These arguments may appear credible if one only considers that they are being raised by the country’s most learned.
However, they need more elaboration as they don’t clearly spell what Siverts has actually done wrong.
Seeking the expulsion of an experienced academic like Siverts on the back of sweeping generalisations does not do anyone any good, not least this country which is in dire need of a reformed education sector to produce graduates relevant to its employment creation prospects.
If Siverts want NUL to scale to the heights of Yale or Sanford, the inevitable question any fair minded person must ask is about what is wrong with that.
Are Siverts detractors saying NUL must remain as an academic backwater churning out half-baked and in some instances unemployable graduates, as had become the norm, instead of pursuing the obvious ambition to academic excellence.
Striving for the academic excellence seen at institutions like Yale or Stanford is exactly what NUL should be aiming for.
There is therefore more to be gained by supporting Siverts’ ambition to achieve that goal.
When Siverts was appointed to head the university last year, its problems were flying around it like a ballerina’s skirt.
Siverts had to grab the bull by the horns and tackle the university’s challenges head-on without pandering to the whims and caprices of some of its lazy academics and unruly students. Her efforts remain work in progress.
She therefore needs the support of the entire university community, the government and all relevant stakeholders to achieve that feat.
So far she has proved to be a competent academic and administrator.
It’s because of her success that her detractors can hardly sustain a single allegation of impropriety against her.
Lets built on that success instead of seeking further destabilisation of NUL by seeking her firing for no appropriate reason.
NUL has had a fair share of bad Vice-Chancellors, some of whom were just outright crooks.
Siverts is a breath of fresh air.
Lets support her in realising her noble ambition to scale NUL to the heights of Stanford or Yale.
Perhaps NUL graduates will then become much sought after by industry the world over just as Standford or Yale graduates are considered the cream of academia.

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