long time ago you could end a debate by simply announcing that you are a graduate from the National University of Lesotho (NUL).
Back then, people would look at you with awe and nod their heads while digesting your arguments.
They would say: “Mmmmmm, he is from NUL so he must know what he is talking about.”
If you were in a bar free drinks would start coming your way as people jostle to pick your mind. It didn’t matter even if you were talking crap.
Those were the days!
Now things have really changed.
Of course you still can end a debate by announcing that you are a NUL graduate.
But this time instead of staring at you with admiration people will look at you up and down with a disgusted look on their faces.
Then after a few moments they would say: “Phew, he is from NUL so he sure doesn’t know what he is talking about for they don’t teach anything at the college anymore”.
After that everyone will walk away from you like you had just let go of some smelly gases.
If you are in a bar you might spend the whole night alone in your corner, miserable.
These are the days!
The quality at NUL, our graduate factory, is now questionable.
Yet I believe that what has really degraded the institution is not the quality of students but the quality of teachers (they like to be called lecturers but they are still teachers, anyway).
They are now driven more by the size of the pay cheques than passion.
On October 7 Lutaru put boots on the campus again.
Its soldiers were ready for war with the management over wages.
The lecturers and researchers (call them searchers if you like) want a 15 percent pay rise plus a review to narrow the salary gap between the lecturers and associate professors.
Scrutator’s attitude is that the government, which is their de facto paymaster, should never allow such greed to take root at the highest high school in the country.
We are in the middle of a biting recession yet they want to have two pay increases in 10 months.
NUL lecturers must realise that no matter how loftily they regard themselves they remain teachers at a rundown university funded by a broke government.
They have to accept that they are mere teachers at a non-profit institution that might soon be technically insolvent.
They must stop this brouhaha and get back to work.
An institution pays what it can afford and not what employees think they should earn.
If NUL lecturers think their sweat is worth more they can look for jobs elsewhere.
Nobody has stopped them from leaving the profession if they are tired of earning pittances.
They must accept the thrill that comes with the filling of empty heads and the shrill that comes with a miserable salary.
NUL lecturers must not pretend that they have many options because they have none.
If they had many options they would have left that pathetic excuse of a university eons ago.
Those who had options left before they could be contaminated by the serious bug of complacency that comes with staying too long at an institution where hard work is the exception rather than the rule.
So rampant is indolence at NUL that those who work hard are the butt of nasty office jokes.
his vocation called teaching doesn’t pay.
It has never paid.
Ever wondered why the cabinet is teeming with former teachers?
Just ask Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, a former teacher.
He left teaching for politics as soon as he had gathered enough courage to graduate from addressing 200 students to selling a political agenda to a crowd of 5 000 “simple” souls.
If Mosisili is too intimidating to be asked about the miserable salaries in teaching then ask his deputy Lesao Lehohla, former teacher and headmaster.
He too left teaching for politics and Scrutator doesn’t think he has any cent saved from his years of toiling in the classroom.
This profession doesn’t pay, I tell you.
Ask the Agriculture Minister Ralechate Mokose, a former headmaster.
Ask the Public Service Minister Ramootsi Lehata or local government minister Dr Pontso Sekatle.
Trade Minister Dr Leketekete Ketso left NUL before Mosisili could say “come join the government LK!”
Even Education Minister ‘Mamphono Khaketla, who taught teachers to teach, will tell you that teaching doesn’t pay.
here is ample evidence in the cabinet to show that you don’t need to perform a “Houdini Act” to leave teaching.
Scrutator therefore cannot understand why the NUL lecturers cling on to their jobs if they are really frustrated.
It could be perhaps because they know that beyond NUL there is nothing else.
They probably feel that they have already arrived and must fight hard for what they have.
Or it could be that they know of no other job. They say “those who can do the job will do it while those who can’t do the job will teach”.
It also boggles the mind why Lutaru wants a review to narrow the gap between lecturers and associate professors.
You cannot equalise salaries by cranking up earnings of under-qualified people to match those of qualified people.
Better qualified people must earn better salaries so those less qualified know what it means to work hard.
In fact the gap between those salaries must be bigger so that those at the bottom strive to climb up the ladder.
Salaries should be based on merit and not unionism.
Scrutator’s humble opinion is that the next time those teachers toyi-toyi again the management must promptly fire them.
A lot of universities have been emptying lecturers into the streets lately.
The vice-chancellor can dispatch the dismissal letters with one hand and get applications with the other.
Only then can those teachers know what it means to be a teacher without a job.
Scrutator has no words for the noises from the non-academic staff because they are just “support staff”.
Those who do general jobs must earn general salaries so that they know that general skills don’t pay.