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Talks over NUL plight begin

Lerato Matheka

Funding negotiations over troubled National University of Lesotho are expected to begin tomorrow (Monday 14 May) between government and the school management.

This comes after the NUL governing Council overrode the Senate’s decision to suspend final exams and all academic business on Friday.

The Senate had last Monday decided to suspend the school business to corner the government for deliberations over declining subvention the university receives through Ministry of Education and Training.

The Senate contended the government subvention had, over the past ten years, dropped from M132 million in 2008/09 academic year to M110 million in the current 2017/18. It had resolved to petition Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in October last year over the matter.

Dr Thabane had, in turn, directed ministries of Education and Training, Development Planning, and of Finance to sit together with the NUL authorities and solve the issue.

But while the deliberations did not materialise, the Senate said it was “further shocked” that instead of responding to the crisis, the subvention was further cut from M110 million to M99 million in the projected 2018/19 fiscal year.

But in counter statement, the Education and Training Minister Ntoi Rapapa refuted the NUL financial crisis claims noting the government had just donated M24. 8 million batch to sustain the institution’s business through April to June, 2018.

The deadlock had prompted the university Council meeting on Friday to discuss and decide way forward.

In the statement released later on Friday, the Council said it “considered the Senate’s decision to suspend the on-going examinations and teaching activities.”

The Council also considered “precipitating circumstances and conditions which led to the Senate decision and debated the implications therein”.

It then directed that “examinations must resume with immediate effect and the council welcomed government of Lesotho’s commitment to embark on negotiations around the issue of NUL funding, which will commence on Monday 14 May 2018.”

Meanwhile, the Lesotho Student Convention (LeSCO) had pledged its support to the Senate’s decision to suspend the school business.

Regarded the most influential students’ movement at NUL, LeSCO has lashed out at government for “developing an ignorant tendency to turn a blind eye on the deteriorating level of education at our university.”

The dwindling government subvention, according to LeSCO, has not only let to deteriorating level of education at the country’s only public university, but also continuous deserting of intellectuals from the school.

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