Unsponsored NUL students rope in lawyer

THABISO NTAOTE

MASERU – The bulk of National University of Lesotho (NUL) students who have long applied for sponsorship during the start of 2021/2022 academic year are yet to know their fate. After Monday’s notice to staff and students from NUL’s registrar’s office concerning publication of results, some students and parents decided legal action. The notice states that any student who has not paid his/her fees shall not get results until all outstanding debts have been cleared.

This casts a shadow of uncertainty among students who are worried about their future as their parents try all they can to intervene. Yesterday Public Eye caught up with a few parents who wished to remain unknown, who expressed great concern and said that they have taken the initiative to hire a lawyer to help them. One guardian from Mapoteng, said he has a grandchild who has been struggling with the cost of living since the start of the first semester and is among the parents who united to confront NUL.

“We first heard about the news on Monday afternoon (July 25th 2022) and we decided to form a whatsapp group, then met on Tuesday in the early hours to confirm with NMDS about the students’ lists only to find out that they do not appear,” said the elderly grand parent. “We further decided to find a lawyer but his charges were too demanding, then the current lawyer asked for M100.00 per head, which was reasonable.”

The parents said that their lawyer is having discussions with Minister of Development Planning Selibe Mochoboroane and are expecting further updates. The lawyer promised to update them on Sunday. The aggrieved parents and students said they wish NMDS could clear their outstanding balances for the recently ended academic year and allow them to apply for a new sponsorship in the upcoming academic year in September and start on a fresh page.

Since the next academic year resumes in two months, there is a sense of hope that their efforts will yield the desired results since the lawyer and minister are now involved. However, one parent said these issues can affect the mental health of children and said one student from Leribe committed suicide because of financial issues with NMDS. “We plead with NMDS and NUL to sort out their relationship for the benefit of everybody and to prevent these events from happening again in the future, especially after ongoing corruption investigations about some of NMDS’ former employees,” she said.

“These corruption cases lower the value of both NUL and NMDS’s statuses and I realise that corruption is real and suspect they share the spoils. We ask for legal action to be taken and fees to be settled pronto,” she further stated. The parents also believe that NUL has control over the SRC and have tried all they can to help struggling students to no avail. One of the students struggling with sponsorship from Ha Leqele suggested that their names should be prioritized this time around, especially after they were left out for the whole of the first year. She said rent and food have been headache in their struggle.

“NUL management seems not to care about the welfare of its students since communication between the students’ union and NUL is not effective at all and we have been going to the Ministry of Development Planning, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Gender and the Parliament because of rent and food crises we encounter,” she said.

“In all of them we got discouraging answers as students until some of students attempted suicide while some decided to withdraw from school altogether,” she added. She added that the reasons not to give out tuition waivers were that it could compromise the school’s finances and its not the school’s policy and that made them lose hope even more. Fortunately, the school was able to allow them to write final exams but the big question remains, whether their fees debt will be cleared or not?

 

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