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Vice-Chancellor blames shoddy work ethic for poor results

Caswell Tlali

MASERU — National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice-Chancellor Professor Sharon Siverts on Thursday blamed the poor quality of academic programmes offered by the university on the lecturers’ shoddy work ethic.
Siverts told a press briefing that in the two and half years she had been at NUL “no one new course or new programme or revision to a programme has come before Senate”.

“Some staff (members) admit that their programmes have not been reviewed or upgraded for at least a decade, some longer,” Siverts said. “To me, this equates to a stagnant environment. How can students be competitive under such conditions? Review and innovation of programmes and courses is the responsibility of those who teach.”

She said the University of Botswana, for instance, has had more than 20 new programmes that had been developed or revised in the past two years alone. Siverts said other innovations to advance international competitiveness had also been introduced at the University of Botswana during the same period. She said for the past two years even though she had made sure that funding was available for programmes’ innovation “the resources provided have not been used”.

The Vice-Chancellor said for years the Centre for Accounting Studies (CAS) and the Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA) had been trying to help NUL with its accounting curriculum to meet Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) standards without success. “This is important as many of our graduates go to LIA for Chartered Accountancy (CA),” she said. Siverts said NUL students take two to three years to get their CA when it could take a year if NUL courses were given exemptions by ACCA.

Students who have graduated from NUL must take many courses because those offered at their university have not been exempted. “While this concern has been known for some time, it is the staff, the head of department, the dean and the office of academic affairs that must address this problem for the benefit of students,” she said. Siverts also complained of scarcity of textbooks for students. She blamed the students for this.

Siverts said when faculties are reminded that textbooks must be ordered for the next academic year, few submit requests. “Students do not buy textbooks,” she said. She said perhaps they do not buy textbooks because they see no reason as lecturers do not make assignments from them or because they photocopy them or they spend their textbook money on other things.

“Whatever the reason, this is not acceptable. Textbooks add to the knowledge of the lectures,” she said.
Siverts said one staff member wrote to her and said there is no reading culture among students. “It is only through insisting on using textbooks and other resources that this culture will change,” she said. She said Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Mafa Sejanamane is the one responsible for the quality of academic programmes, the faculties, departments and teaching and research staff.

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