NUL honoured by the WTO



MASERU – The National University of Lesotho (NUL) has been granted a chair by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and will host an official launch ceremony which will take place both virtually and in person at the Avani Lesotho hotel next week.

According to the WTO website, the WTO chair programme aims to promote research in trade-related matters and highlight policy relevance, to support the development and delivery of courses on international trade and provide teaching support, to establish a network of engaged academics, to encourage outreach activities as well as to collate information and promote knowledge sharing on international trade. In an interview with Public Eye, the university’s co-coordinator of the outreach pillar, Thuto Matobo, noted that it is an honour for NUL to be part of this prestigious chair. She said: “Through the chair, the university is given worldwide recognition and is elevated to international standards.”

Responding to how the university will benefit from being awarded a chair in WTO, Matobo highlighted that NUL has undergraduate and postgraduate courses that deal with one aspect or another of international trade across facilities. She said some of these courses have not been revised in a long time and may be outdated in terms of their content, material and approaches to teaching. As a result, through the chair, the university will conduct reviews of curricula. “The chair also desires to support the inter-disciplinary teaching of international trade. These will enrich programme offerings of the university.”

Matobo further noted that there are three pillars under the chair which are the research pillar whose focus is on academic and policy-oriented research. The capacity building enables increased quality and quantity research output, in the form of books, articles, conference papers and the likes. The third pillar is the outreach pillar whose “activities assist the university with building and securing networks. This is done by engaging with stakeholders through information sharing and securing their support for outreach activities.”

The WTO Chairs Programme was launched in 2010 and it aims to improve knowledge and understanding of the trading system among academics and policy makers in developing countries through curriculum development, research and outreach activities by universities and research institutions. Academic institutions awarded the WTO chair receive support in the areas of research, curriculum development, and outreach activities and the chair-holders are selected through a competitive process.

In 2009, 14 institutions were originally selected as WTO Chairs for a four-year term and seven institutions were added to the programme in May 2014. Following a call for applications for Phase 3 of the programme, over 120 applications were received by the WTO. A selection process resulted in 17 institutions being chosen to join the network of WCP Chairs (WTO Chair Programme) in December 2021. This further diversifies the programme’s representation across the globe, with the network now comprising 36 universities.

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