Lesotho needs a research council
LESOTHO, like other developing economies is experiencing a plethora of social ills which appear to hinder its development.
Those social ills are, inter alia, rapid “rurbanisation” (rapid increase of rural tendencies in our urban areas), growing poverty, unemployment, HIV/AIDS, economic stagnation, lack of adequate infrastructure and environmental degradation.
I honestly believe that your portfolios, although different, are collectively well-placed to bring about solutions for these ills. We can’t continue to live with our country being placed very low on the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Programme.
That should stop and it will take your ministries and the support of the Basotho nation will give you in charting the way forward for all of us. Minister for Development Planning, Moeketsi Majoro’s ministry is tasked with “providing strategic direction for promoting shared employment creating economic growth and sustainable development”.
My question to him is what has he done so far to move along these lines except producing that voluminous document called the National Strategic Development Plan which is not even accessible to an ordinary Mosotho, and just remains but on paper?
Selibe Mochoboroane, as the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, is tasked with building “leaders in technology and research moving towards a prosperous, innovative, stable and sustainable democracy and a knowledgebased society”.
Except for advertising digital migration, what has he done to rid Lesotho of the social ills that we are experiencing through science and technology?
Honourable ministers, in my view, your departments are moving very slowly in solving our social problems.
The cure in solving these problems is simple. It lies in establishing the National Research Council (NRC).
Research has shown on numerous platforms that knowledge production, acquisition and utilisation can play a positive role in building a prosperous country and economy.
My view is that Lesotho should establish the NRC spearheaded by your two ministries.
The NRC should coordinate all social and natural sciences research in the country whether private, public and institutional.
Its work shouldn’t be to hold monopoly on who conducts research but rather on how it should be conducted.
It should see to it that all re- search conducted in the country is done ethically and broadens knowledge as well as to help solve our social ills.
The NRC should also fund research which addresses the identified research focus areas that would contribute to national social cohesion and economic growth.
Funding research through this council will likely help in producing both valid and reliable knowledge and stop research being manipulated by the private funders’ interests who usually change research results to favour their economic and ideological interests.
The management of this council should be bestowed on a board of very outstanding Basotho nationals and foreigners if desirable.
They should be appointed based on their excellence and contribution in their respective fields. They should represent wide public sectors, like academia, business, society, politics, government and local authorities.
The board should have two ethical committees; one for the social and human sciences and the other for the natural sciences. Everybody who wishes to conduct research would have to apply to his/her respective field’s ethical committee for approval for their research.
This should be done to protect Basotho against dubious research which might distort information and harm Basotho both economically and intellectually.
People should also apply to their respective field’s committees for research funding to conduct ethical research.
If knowledge production could be coordinated by the single council as I have outlined above, I believe we could better understand the social ills that hinder the development of our country collectively.
Charting the way into a prosperous future would then be simple and not be based on some vicious diagnosis which I tend to think that the NSDP was informed by.
Let’s together build a bright Lesotho which our descendants will be proud of.
As your respective slogans state; “Sechaba Pele ho Tsohle” and “Plan for better results”.
God bless Lesotho and Basotho.
Minister of Development and Planning Moeketsi Majoro.
Minister of Communications selibe Mochoboroane.