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NUL reopens as calm is restored

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

THE National University of Lesotho (NUL) will tomorrow resume normal operations a week after it was forced to shut down by student riots at the main campus in Roma.

The decision was communicated by the institution’s Senate in a circular released on 3 September.

“Staff and students of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) are informed that at its 371st special meeting dated 3 September 2019, Senate was presented with the report on assessment of the riots situation and vacation of students from the NUL – Roma campus on Friday 30 August 2019,” the circular reads.

“After a lengthy and thorough consideration of the issues of concern, Senate resolved that students should resume lectures on Monday 9 September 2019.

“Students should be allowed to report to NUL starting from Saturday 7 September 2019,” the circular adds.

However, students will forfeit their annual first semester short break which will be used as part of the academic recovery plan for the lost teaching week. Lecturers were also requested to award leave of absence for students who might wish to sort out their scholarship issues with their NMDS.

“For this semester, the short break will not be available to students as it will be used as part of the academic recovery plan. Lecturers should support students if they have to proceed to NMDS for renewal of contracts.

“The university management has to own its responsibility to request NMDS to fast-track the process of issuing allowances to students. Lecturers were requested to be well prepared and supportive to the students,” the circular reads.

The riots broke out a fortnight ago as students protested delays in the payments of their food and book allowances by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).

Armed police had to be called in to disperse the marauding students who vandalised NUL and staff personal property and set ablaze one of the security officers’ houses during the strike which has been declared unlawful by the NUL senate.

Authorities at the NUL had to indefinitely shut down the country’s premier learning institution on 30 August 2019 and send local students home. Only foreign and disabled students were allowed to remain on campus until the lifting of the shutdown and the resumption of classes.

The authorities said although the students had received their allowances, demonstrations continued leaving a trail of destruction.

“The continuing riots have resulted in the significant destruction of the university property, staff personal property and the harassment of NUL community and the public,” the Senate said on 30 August 2019.

According to the senate, the university management was left with no choice but to indefinitely shut down the university and suspend lectures after attempts to get students to end the strike failed.

“On Thursday 29 August 2019, the senate executive assessed the situation and directed that students should stop their rioting and return to class but they refused. Therefore, the university is left with no option but to suspend lectures with immediate effect until further notice.

“All students admitted to the Roma campus, with the exception of international students and students with disabilities, are directed to leave the university premises forthwith. The cut-off point to be out of the campus is 3pm (on 30 August 2019). Staff, NUL community and the public are advised to take precautionary measures on their safety and security.  Staff should continue with their normal work activities. As a matter of urgency, the registrar will communicate this decision to sponsors. Notice on the resumption of lectures will be communicated,” the senate said on 30 August.

However, the university authorities have decided to re-open the university and lectures are set to resume tomorrow.



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