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Siverts must grab bull by the horns

ELSEWHERE in this paper we carry a story based on an interview with Professor Sharon Siverts, the new vice-chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

Judging by her statements Siverts seems to understand what’s ailing NUL.

She says the university will introduce new courses that are relevant to the country’s needs.

She is also planning to re-jig the curricula of some of the degree programmes and does not rule out the possibility that some courses might be chopped.

There are also plans to introduce internship programmes for students to get relevant work experience before they come into the industry.

The university will also improve its infrastructure through partnerships with private companies and donors, Siverts says.

She promises that the university will manage its resources better and consult more to avoid the squabbles that have led to endless student and worker unrests which have rocked the country in the past.

All these are noble intentions that will help review the country’s national university if implemented well.

Yet talk is cheap.

We have been here before.

Every time a new vice-chancellor has produced a long wish-list of things they want to improve during their tenure.

But history has shown that before they can even start delivering on their promises they become caught up in the internal politics that have stunted NUL’s growth over the years.

And soon they will be battling for survival.

Many have come and gone before they could transform NUL.

In the meantime NUL has remained a source of national shame.

The work environment at NUL has been so poisoned that even the best manager in the world might struggle to thrive.

To succeed, Siverts has to grab the “bull by its horns”.

To do this she will have to be very strong and strike a balance between being persuasive and being assertive.

People at NUL, especially in the management, have to been driven out of their comfort zones.

Yet in doing this she must always thrive to consult and get “buy in” from the people she works with.

There will always be those who remain hung up in the destructive ways of the past.

Siverts must encourage them to come to the party but if they are not interested in creating a new NUL then she must not hesitate to send them packing.

It’s encouraging that Siverts says her consultations with students and the management have shown that there is a general feeling that NUL needs to change if it is to regain its past glory.

Equally encouraging is the fact that the government, the university council and senate as well as the business community share the same vision.

Now that Siverts has been given the mandate to drive that process of transformation the stakeholders must give her the necessary support.

If Siverts is to fail it must be for her own shortcomings and not because someone is meddling with her work.

The time to change NUL is now or never.

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