So here we go again.
That issue which gets the bile of many people churned out by that ridiculous excuse of a university boiling is upon us again.
While the ineptness at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) is so legendary that even goats and cows have composed hymns about it, this time the university has outdone itself.
If there was a hall of fame for pathetic institutions in this world NUL would have entered it without trying.
It has taken mediocrity to lofty levels that might not be reached by any institution in this country in the next 100 years.
NUL has raised the standard of mediocrity to meteoritic heights and it would seem that the university is enthusiastic about maintaining that dubious distinction.
The news this week is that half of the students in three of the seven faculties at the National University of Laziness have failed so dismally that the authorities there are startled.
Scrutator hears that when the new vice-chancellor, Professor Sharon Siverts, saw the results her head started spinning.
The depressing results left the council in shock.
Parents are said to have wept.
As usual, the students are alleging foul play.
Yet Scrutator was not surprised.
For years she has been saying that NUL is full of glorified dunderheads who think university is “completed” instead of being passed.
Despite the fire that NUL graduates spit at her, Scrutator has never flinched from reminding everyone who cares to listen that standards at the college have gone to the dogs.
Many have put their mouths in their noses (that’s an African idiom for getting angry) after she reminded them that NUL has been transformed into a de facto kindergarten.
The only encouraging thing is that events over the years have only served to vindicate Scrutator.
The embarrassing pass rate this year is just one of those numerous events that have proven Scrutator correct.
You would think that NUL shouldn’t be producing such shameful results because it gets the best high school students in this country and it’s fairly well-funded.
But NUL is in a class of its own.
You don’t need to have been there to realise that standards at the university have plummeted to murky depths.
In fact you don’t even need to enter through the doors to the lecture halls to see that things are not well.
Even one president of a country in our neighbourhood, who taught himself to read and write, will tell you that NUL is now in the intensive care unit.
When the lecturers are not toyi-toying for more money they are busy doing private consultancy jobs instead of teaching or doing research.
If you think Scrutator is embellishing then go to the High Court or magistrate’s court and see how many lecturers from NUL’s law school will be busy moonlighting.
Some of them have become notorious for bunking work.
There are others who spend their day at that dingy bar across the campus gulping the merry waters with zest.
Scrutator knows of one lecturer who has since been awarded a trophy for being “punctual and loyal” to that grimy bar next to the garage along Pope John Paul II road.
It is clear that some lecturers are absconding duty with enthusiasm but, for some reasons, no one has bothered to cut their long tails.
The only time you see them working hard is when they are demanding that they be paid the same as their counterparts in regional universities, as if NUL is in the same class with any university in this region.
Only then do they break some sweat. They will clear their throats to shout obscenities.
If only they could show the same vim for teaching and research then NUL will be a regional academic powerhouse that it was in the 1970s, 1980s and the early 1990s before someone took a hammer and started lynching its standards and reputation.
As I write this something that will clearly show that there is a culture of laziness is happening at the university.
A couple of years ago, after another round of bickering, it was agreed that the salary gap between a senior lecturer and an associate professor should be narrowed.
Scrutator doesn’t know who came up with that scheme but she is dead sure that the lecturers pushed their weight around to get that deal.
So now NUL has to close that gap or the garrulous union leaders will start waving placards demanding “justice”.
The reason why lecturers railroaded that deal is simply because to become an associate professor you need to have published some research papers and that is something that lecturers at NUL hate with a passion.
They want to earn salaries of associate professors without working for the title. Life is indeed good at NUL.
If those lecturers had it their way they would award themselves doctorates and professorships on a silver platter.
Scrutator is sick to the back teeth of lecturers who complain that NUL doesn’t pay them well but, for some reason, they remain stuck at the university.
The truth of the matter is that they don’t want to move to better paying institutions in the region or the world because they will be exposed for what they are: indolent educators who want the best salaries for very little work.
No university in this world, not even that fake one from the east, will tolerate their mischief.
Yet the lecturers are not the only ones to blame for the poor standards.
The students too must learn to drink less alcohol or at least dilute it with water if they want to be taken seriously.
Those students get drunk stupid.
Even salaried people don’t drink like those spoilt brats.
Scrutator has no doubt that if we were to take blood tests from most of the students we would find that a significant number of them have little blood in their “alcohol streams”.
They spend most of their book allowances, which they get from taxpayers, on liquor.
Because most of them are always high on something they will never raise hell when lecturers go AWOL.
They jump with joy when a lecturer bunks a class.
The only time they scream and kick is when their grants are delayed.
They will drop their books pronto and rush to Maseru.
Their leader, who clearly has no intention of graduating any time soon, will take to the podium and start raving and ranting.
The finance ministry will be called “evil” and the NMDS will be labelled “insensitive”.
Soon ministers will start scrambling to issue statements as if a major disaster has struck the country. Onsin!
But in all this it will be unfair to blame only the lazy lecturers and the perennially drunk students.The management too has been running that university like a stokvel or a village burial society.
Under their watch the university has gone bust to the extent that it now struggles to pay salaries.
To get the university out of this financial hole the management has to stop digging.
It’s embarrassing that an institute that trains accountants in this country has failed to produce clean accounts for the past six years.
It seems that most of them are more concerned with self preservation that serving the university.
The previous university councils have not helped matters because they have pandered to the whims of the workers and students who obviously have a long way to go before they can qualify to be described as “mature”.
The government too must take the blame for leaving the university to its own devices.
The government has been hesitant to cut the university’s long tail because it was afraid of a backlash.
Now it has no choice because it too is too broke to continue funding a university that is hostile to accountability.
Because Scrutator has previously been accused of criticising without offering solutions she would like to take this opportunity to offer some advice on how NUL can get out this mess.
Since no amount of restructuring can solve its perennial problems Scrutator would like to suggest that we close NUL for renovations.
Let’s close this national embarrassment and start afresh.
All lecturers must be fired so they take time to decide whether they are really interested in working or not.
The management too must be booted out.
The students must be sent home.
Then after a year or two the government will advertise all the jobs and hire people who are competent and interested in working for the university.
The new workers must be offered performance-based contracts.
No student must be admitted until they have taken a pre-entry test just to be sure they didn’t slip their way through high school.
Isn’t that a splendid idea comrades and compatriots?