THE National University of Lesotho (NUL) is again embroiled in yet another storm after a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences was this week charged with corruption for allegedly receiving bribes to make students pass.
The police say the lecturer allegedly demanded bribes of between M1 000 and M2 000 each from students.
While the court is still to pronounce its verdict, the case seems to suggest there is a corrupt cabal at Roma that is bent on tarnishing the good image of the university.
Last October, the university said it had unearthed an elaborate fraud case in which a student was awarded a degree she did not deserve.
The student graduated after she sought a High Court order compelling the university to allow her to be capped.
The student had apparently failed six subjects.
The police said then they were investigating cases in which NUL officials had tampered with students’ academic results.
NUL pro-vice chancellor Professor Mafa Sejanamane has in the past also acknowledged there were allegations of “fraudulent manipulation of students’ records”.
In November last year, another student publicly alleged she had been made to fail her exams after she spurned sexual advances by her lecturer.
Only God knows how many other students have been subjected to similar callous acts.
It is a given that these stories have the potential to seriously besmirch NUL’s good name in the eyes of the public; which is sad.
The media, like a mirror, merely reflects the reality on the ground at Roma, no matter how unsavoury the image might be.
We however, want to give credit to NUL management.
They have not sought to sweep the dirt under the carpet.
Suspected criminals have either been suspended or charged in courts of law.
We applaud this stance. In fact this is how things should be.
A candid admission that there is indeed a problem is the first step in addressing this challenge.
We also acknowledge that NUL is indeed a large community. It is natural that there are bound to be flawed personalities among the lot.
But when everything has been said and done, NUL must ensure that such flawed personalities are weeded out, pronto.
These “quacks” have no place at a university.
We feel so strongly about the happenings at NUL simply because the scandals have wider implications for the future of students and Lesotho in general.
Under the present set-up, no one will trust the integrity of the diplomas and degrees issued by NUL.
Basotho students would have to be subjected to more rigorous tests when they want to further their studies across our borders.
We are already a “pariah state” where our passports are not trusted.
The practice of issuing degrees and certificates to students who would have failed also puts the very future of this country into jeopardy.
It is only when students go through a rigorous process of examinations that we can be able to separate “the wheat from the chaff”.
The prospect of getting chaff masquerading as the “wheat” is, for us, too ghastly to contemplate.
The consequences could also be life-threatening.
When we have fake doctors, fake nurses and fake pharmacists, for example, the sheer amount of damage they can cause is unimaginable.
The analogy applies to all disciplines at NUL.
It is precisely for these reasons that we feel strongly about the shenanigans at our premier university.
We urge the NUL authorities to respond promptly and appropriately and come down hard on any lecturers accused of these underhand practices.
It is in the university’s interests that these criminal elements are weeded out.