T’S been only three years since Lesotho imported Limkokwing University from Malaysia, purportedly to educate our people. Yet in that short time Limkokwing has hurriedly climbed up the ladder of mediocrity to become one fat excuse of a university.
The pomp and fanfare that marked its inception has been replaced by pathetic scenes of unending strikes.
Even before we could even say “long live Dr Lim Kok Wing” the university has taken giant steps towards self-destruction and is now in freefall.
Senior government official who threatened to launch a “jihad” on behalf of Dr Lim Kok Wing will soon have egg on their faces.
Their long tails are just about to be trimmed.
So how did the university sink so low and so fast?
We can postulate all we want but the bottom line is that Limkokwing was doomed from the onset because it lacks the legitimacy to exist in the first place.
It was parachuted into this country without due diligence of its structure, funding model and the quality of education it offers. The government never assessed its curriculum to verify what its worth to this country. A due diligence would have discovered that Limkokwing is a “Pty” seeking profits and nothing else.
Its mantra about innovative education is just a cover for a scheme to siphon money out of poor countries desperate to educate their people.
Limkokwing Lesotho has an annual turnover of about M125 million, making it perhaps the most lucrative business venture in this country.
Limkokwing pays lecturers pittances, rents government buildings for a song and spends as little as possible on educating the students.
It spends zilch on research.
Dr Lim Kok Wing must be laughing all the way to the bank, asking himself what he did to deserve such a jackpot.
He cannot understand how he got a whole government to bankroll a private company without asking questions.
He can pop the champagne for he is probably the only businessmen who came to Lesotho, invested nothing substantial and started making millions a few weeks later.
In 2008 Dr Lim Kok Wing brought a few chairs, a few computers, lots of marketing banners and announced that he was ready to start a university.
Scrutator will strip naked and walk the streets of Maseru if Dr Lim Kok Wing can prove that he invested more than M2 million to start this university.
The old man with squinty eyes runs a private university with students whose exorbitant fees are funded by the government.
isk is the least of his worries because his income is guaranteed.
The state pays and he pockets. Scrutator suspects that although Limkokwing is a de facto profit organisation it does not pay corporate tax.
In a decade Lesotho’s taxpayers would have funded a private university to become a multi-billion maloti empire.
They would have built a university they cannot control and whose degrees they cannot measure.
If the powers-that-be would look back they would see that Limkokwing is not worth fighting for.
It offers degrees with high sounding names but very little substance.
Perhaps the biggest fraud at the college is what it calls Associate Degrees. What is an associate degree, you may ask?
or an answer to that question look no further than the university’s own colourful website.
“In terms of equivalency, an Associate Degree award is equivalent to 1.5 years of university’s undergraduate programmes,” the university says.
In other words an Associate Degree is not even anywhere near a junior degree at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).
It is not even equivalent to a second-year of a junior NUL degree.
So there you have it, we are paying between M19 000 and M25 000 per year for something that is not even a proper degree. Take Limkokwing Associate Degree to any proper university and they will laugh you out of the admissions office.
At NUL they are likely to be less mean: They will either refer you to their Chaplin for prayers or to that dingy bar across the main gate to get slouched.
Scrutator has no doubt that those Associate Degrees are just overrated certificates.
In comparative terms, a Limkokwing student finishes with far more debt than a NUL student but their degree will be worth less than half of the one from NUL.
A NUL student has a decent chance of walking into any university in the world to do an honours or masters’ degree while a Limkokwing student will be lucky to be considered for an undergraduate degree. That, of cause, doesn’t bother Dr Lim Kok Wing because if his students can’t get a place at any other university they are stuck with him forever.
To proceed to another educational level they will have to stay within the Limkokwing family.
It’s called keeping the money within the business.
The government is standing arms akimbo while Dr Lim Kok Wing plays monkey tricks with our national resources and education system.
oes someone have their head immersed in that feeding trough called Limkokwing?
This is a pertinent question because there is nothing on the ground to justify that Limkokwing was urgent and relevant.
With the M125 million we are shipping out to Malaysia every year we could have built a state-of-the-art university in the next three years.
But the best option would have been to upgrade Lerotholi Polytechnic into a university of technology.
There we would have offered real degrees in engineering and IT because there is already a base from which to start.
Those who are now at Limkokwing would have started at certificate level because, if the truth be told, none of them should be anywhere near anything called a degree. With M125 million a year we could have transformed Lerotholi into a world class university in the next decade or so.
Even the lecturers themselves seemed to have realised they are being abused. They are not rebelling against everything from uniforms, working hours and conditions. The “we-against-the-world- mentality” that the hero worshiped founder inculcated is crumbling.
The honeymoon ended as soon as the lecturers discovered they had been taken for a very long ride.