Back to the drawing board

MASERU — It was launched amid pomp and fanfare.

It was hailed as a panacea to Lesotho’s human resources woes.

The launch of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) in October 2008 was a red-carpet event.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili was over the moon.

Mosisili expressed hope that the new university would meet an urgent need in generating graduates in line with the country’s developmental needs.

Mosisili was not alone in expressing that optimism.

Lesotho’s high commissioner to Malaysia, Ntsebe Kokome, was glowing in her praises of the university’s founder, Malaysian educator Dr Lim Kok Wing.

“If I were in the committee of those who award the Nobel Prize, I would definitely recommend him,” she gushed.

“The presence of Limkokwing University in Lesotho is like a miracle. It has changed the landscape of education in Lesotho.”

Limkokwing University of Creative Technology became Lesotho’s second university after the National University of Lesotho.

There was a huge buzz surrounding the university.

But barely two years after its launch the honeymoon is over.

The bubble seems to have burst.

The university now seems to be dogged by the usual problems affecting all other universities in Africa.

The students are up in arms against the university authorities.

And the charge sheet is quite long.

Students who spoke to the Lesotho Times say nothing short of a radical shake-up will save the university.

They say they are not happy with the calibre of lecturers at the varsity.

They claim the majority of them are under-qualified.

They claim they are being taught by lecturers with first degrees and no Master’s.

They claim some of the lecturers are clueless about the courses they are supposed to teach.

The students are demanding that the lecturers be replaced by those who are better qualified.

In a memo dated August 25, 2009 which was sent to management the students demanded that management “re-evaluate the qualifications of teaching staff for the sake of quality”.

“Students are concerned they are being taught by lecturers with first degree qualifications at the level of honours degree.

“They need to be taught by lecturers with Masters degrees,” read the memo.

Male students who used to reside in Malunga Hotel in Lekhalaneng as their residence also protested against the quality of the building.

The floor was wet as it had been plastered only a few days before the students moved in.

There were regular power cuts.

Students were also forced to sleep in the dark.

They bathed with cold water.

The students also complained bitterly over lack of security.

Theft of students’ property was rife at the hostel.

When management failed to deal with these complaints the students went on strike.

The students moved out of the hotel in 2009.

Students also complained about the lack of access to the internet.

They said they could not access the electronic books (E-books), the only source of learning materials at their disposal.

They claimed in the entire university computer labs only two machines had access to the internet.

This means only a few students managed to have a glimpse of the E-books that are crucial to their studies.

Students studying television and film production complained that cameras and studios were also in short supply.

Fed up with these problems, the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) on September 15 tabled a memo to the university management demanding a solution.

Their list of grievances has still not changed.

The students said they will boycott classes until the university addressed their concerns about poor internet connection, delays in disbursing their allowances, and poor multi-media services.

They are also not happy with the “empty promises” by management.

The management initially said they were shutting down the university for 19 days starting September 16.

But they later reversed the decision telling students that the school had been closed indefinitely.

In papers filed at the High Court SRC president Moeketsi Pholo was scathing in his criticism of how Education Minister ’Mamphono Khaketla handled the matter.

“She held all our views regarding our grievances as baseless and nonsensical.

“She ended (the discussion) by instructing us to direct the students to go for classes or to our mothers’ places. . . In essence the minister did not listen to us but scolded and insulted us,” Pholo said in the court papers.

Khaketla could not be reached for comment.

The students want the High Court to order the university to re-open.

The High Court is set to hear the matter tomorrow.

Students who spoke to the Lesotho Times said they were disappointed with the university.

One student who refused to be named said he had turned down an offer from a reputable South African university when he was offered a chance to study at Limkokwing.

“I decided not to register at a South African university after I attended their orientation. They praised their services and I fell for them.

“Their course outlines looked good. I had no reason not to enroll with them.

“But now I am hugely disappointed. They lied to us. What we are getting is the opposite of what they promised.

“To think that we are going to pay the NMDS (National Manpower Development Secretariat) big monies when we complete studies kills me,” he said.

Pholo was equally scathing.

The SRC president said the university had failed to deliver the quality education they had promised.

“We were lured into this university with big promises that we would come out as the best products. But with the incompetence that is around that is almost impossible,” Pholo said.

“We have taken the matter to court just to show our management how serious we are about our education.

“We have pleaded with them to make things right but they have ignored us. We hope this will make them treat our concerns with respect,” Pholo said.

Efforts to contact Limkokwing University deputy registrar Moroka Hoohlo failed.

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