Govt shocked by NUL decision

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Pascalinah Kabi

EDUCATION and Training minister, Ntoi Rapapa has branded as “unjustifiable and shocking,” the decision by the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Senate to suspend academic activities with effect from Tuesday this week.

The country’s premier institution of higher learning on Monday suspended all final examinations and other academic activities citing budgetary constraints due to what it said was an insufficient 2018/19 budget allocation.

NUL was allocated M99 million which is M11 million less than the M110m that it received in the 2017/18 financial year.

The NUL Senate expressed concern over the declining government subvention over the last ten years, from M132m in 2008/09 to M99 in the current academic year.

In a statement released on Monday, NUL said it petitioned Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane last October to address the university on the government’s commitment to adequately funding the university.

The university further stated that Dr Thabane directed Prof Rapapa, Finance minister, Moeketsi Majoro and Development Planning minister, Tlohelang Aumane to discuss with NUL and advise the premier on how to solve this “serious crisis undermining higher education in Lesotho and the university”.

“Despite the numerous efforts by the NUL management to follow up on the execution of the Prime Minister’s directive, the expected meetings have not materialised.

“With this situation, the Senate has been further shocked that instead of responding to the said crisis, subvention has been further cut to M99 million in the projected 2018/19 financial year,” NUL said in a statement this week.

The statement said the cut in the budget was an indication of the devaluation of higher education in Lesotho and in view of the untenable financial situation, the Senate concluded that the university was no longer able to discharge its mandate.

“At its special meeting on 7 May 2018, the NUL Senate considered the deleterious impact and repercussions of the ongoing and systematic crippling of the university financially and resolved that this situation has become unacceptable, untenable and is tantamount to a deliberate neglect of the higher education in the country.

“In light of this, the Senate further resolved to suspend the following academic activities with effect from Tuesday 8 May until the government shall have addressed comprehensively the financial sustainability of NUL.”

However, Prof Rapapa yesterday told the Lesotho Times that the government was shocked by the NUL Senate’s decision to suspend academic activities at a critical time when students were supposed to be writing their end of year examinations.

He said the government expected the institution to immediately resume all academic activities.

He also said the university’s decision was all the more uncalled for as he had ensured that NUL received a tranche of M24.8 million to finance its activities for April to June this year.

“The issue of decreasing subvention does not affect NUL only- it affects all other higher learning institutions. I called all these institutions and informed them that we would immediately release the approved funds to them. We have done that and NUL has been given M24.8 million to finance its April to June activities.

“I also informed them that we were going to request more money to enable them to run their institutions and NUL’s reasons don’t hold the water because they have other sources of income like school fees and they run the Sefika Complex as well,” Prof Rapapa said.

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