MASERU — Professor Sharon Siverts has had some successes despite the mounting turmoil of opposition, sabotage and threats at the National University of Lesotho. Under Siverts’ stewardship a new classroom building with three large lecture halls has been completed. Another new classroom building is under construction which will have six smaller classrooms and a computer lab for 100 students.
Approximately M800 000 was put into classroom and laboratory equipment in the sciences in the past year.
“A new lab is scheduled to be completed for IEMS (Institute of Extra Mural Studies) by August,” she told a press conference on Tuesday. She said the internet connectivity has improved from four megabytes per second in 2010/2011 academic year to 30 megabytes per second. She said “Econet has enhanced our 30 megabytes per second to 50 megabytes per second,” for free.
“Not that 50 megabytes is enough but it is a huge increase from four megabytes in 2010,” she said.
Siverts is currently upgrading the ablutions in all residence halls after observing that halls have not been renovated for years. “I have placed priority on student welfare.” “We have replaced and upgraded many of the common rooms, replacing the furniture and the TV’s,” she said.
“There is a lot to do to get the resident halls habitable, including improving safety and security and getting more social and cultural activities for students but these small efforts are a beginning.”
She said many of the ablutions in academic and administrative buildings on campus have been upgraded, as they too, were in deplorable condition. She is replacing seats in the science lecture hall. She is also making an effort to replace all broken computers in the student computer labs.
“This is not to say that there are enough computers on campus for students, but we are working to develop a ‘thin client’ approach to be able to improve the situation,” she said. “We are working hard on a plan to be able to acquire laptops which could be sold to students, with them possibly using part of their book allowance.” “Is this enough, of course not, but there have been efforts to improve the technology on campus.”
She said she has replaced about 200 computers, which are used by the staff, over the last two years.
“We are in a catch up mode and trying, as computers have not been replaced for many years,” she said.
“Currently, 50 new lap-tops have been purchased.” The first lot will go to deans and members of strategic committees like the Academic Staff Appointments Committee “so we can reduce reproducing such large amounts of documents for committee work.”
The second lot will go to teaching and research staff who want a lap-top rather than a desktop.
Siverts has equipped more than 10 additional classrooms with multi-media in order to facilitate improved use of technology in teaching. Three new servers have been bought to facilitate the working of the Computer Services Unit, along with other improved equipment for their work.
“These improvements will assist with hosting a new web-site to include intranet,” she said. The staff lounge is under renovation, which she said “was deplorable and now it will have a restaurant and lounge for all staff.” “Equipment and furniture are in process.” Two port-a-cabins have been reassigned, one to the National University of Lesotho International School (Nulis) for an additional classroom space, and one to Student Affairs.
“The one for Student Affairs has been made into a state of the art gym with new equipment for student and staff,” Siverts said. “It is a terrific facility but not nearly big enough or with enough equipment, but a start.” “NUL has not had adequate facilities for at least the last 10 years or more and that cannot change overnight, but we will continue to prioritise projects to assure that the teaching and research facilities will improve.”