May 2010: With great fanfare it was announced that a Ministry of Tertiary Education has been created by the Honourable Prime Minister and his government to confirm his vision for the progress of the country and to show his goodwill towards the development of the youth of Mauritius.
“To help students benefit from a physical environment appropriate to their development” – one of the objectives of the UTM which Honourable Minister Jeetah has failed to achieve. The university has been growing in terms of number of students since 2010 but the Minister never gave a thought that the building at La Tour Koenig cannot accommodate a population of nearly 6000 students. The new priority of this Ministry is presently the construction of a campus and a medical school in his constituency, the Minister has totally forgotten that UTM students are being directed to secondary schools. We once heard that UTM will inherit of the ex-MBC building, but the Minister confirmed that his fairy tales are just apt for putting kids to bed.
Below is an extract from the website of the UTM which has been updated in September 2010 and it is also mentioned that the realization of UTM’s Vision, Mission, Aims and Objectives are directly linked to the availability of a proper campus targeted within the next 2-3 years. We will nearly reach those 3 years and no construction has been initiated.
The new campus at Côte D’Or should provide for the following facilities to sustain long term growth:
1. Student Centre comprising Student union office and Game room and space for leisure
2. Infrastructure for an Engineering School
3. Necessary building to have existing and new Schools
4. Canteen for students and staff
5. Finance and Administration
6. Five Storey Resource Centre
7. Library/Bookshop on campus with stationery facilities and photocopy service
8. Health facilities + Crèche
9. Fully equipped Gymnasium
10. Auditorium with all facilities
11. Halls of Residence for students
12. On Campus Accommodation for overseas visitors and research fellows
The Minister always claims that one graduate per family is his vision for the tertiary education sector. So he does not care if students are following courses uncomfortably in secondary schools. What matters is that everyone can go to a university. But does the Minister know that most cohorts at the UTM end up graduating with 50% to 60% of its initial population. It is clear that the Minister has been giving preference to quantity over quality and at the same time forgetting the youth of the country by showing them a dream of graduating from university.
Being the representative of the students of the University of Technology Mauritius, it is our duty to enunciate the concerns of those students. Students being the most important stakeholders of the Ministry of Tertiary Education have the right to voice out their opposition. Failure has never been a shame but a chance to try again and it would be better that the Minister starts considering the real problems being faced by university students. Learning from other Ministers who at least are doing the minimum required also is not a shame. If this seems impossible, then it would be better to put the right person at the Ministry of Tertiary Education.