SINU on the verge of collapse as students, lecturers leave in drove
SENIOR lecturers and support staff have warned that the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) could close its doors by the end of next month unless the government intervenes.
In an interview yesterday, the staff members who wish to remain unnamed told Solomon Star that a restructuring program undertaken by a so-called Senior Management Committee (SMC) has done SINU more damage than the committee had realized.
Staff said the outcome of the SMC’s work is the chaos that SINU is now going through. It has denuded both campuses of qualified lecturers, experienced kitchen staff and students who have left in droves owing to lack of qualified staff.
“SINU does not have lecturers. SINU does not have students and SINU does not have support staff in almost every faculty and department. You cannot run a university like that,” they said.
“Unless the government of the day wakes up to its responsibility to keep SINU open and functioning, the future is not rosy,” they said.
Some former senior staff spoken to yesterday are predicting that it would be a miracle if SINU survives as a University beyond next month.
According to the staff, the Committee, headed by former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and now SINU’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Corporate), Shadrach Fanega has done more damage to staff morale and SINU’s integrity than they have realized.
The only way to save SINU as a viable and functioning learning institution is to establish a royal commission of inquiry to establish what has gone wrong,” they said.
According to them, it would take up to 25 years or more to rebuild SINU to the level where it was prior to Ganesh Chand’s recruitment as Vice Chancellor.
Take for example the student enrollment at the beginning of this year. There were 8, 500 students who enrolled. Now there’s only 2, 000 students. Most are doing their studies on units rather than pay a full tuition fee,” they said.
In every faculty or department, the story is the same in terms of staffing.
One senior lecturer whose contract was not renewed told Solomon Star that SINU does not even have qualified and experienced staff to write courses for the units to be taught.
“It takes six months to write one unit. But now, due to the so-called restructuring program, there are no qualified and experienced staff to write the units for the courses being taught at SINU.
“I would suggest it would take up to 25 years to rebuild the staff morale and experience to the level where it was, say in 2018. This Committee has done so much damage by dividing staff into two groups – those who support Dr Chand and those who do not.
“The whole mess at SINU was not about retirement age or any other silly excuses. It simply revolves around Dr Chand as Vice Chancellor.”
In the Library department, the only Solomon Islands national who holds a Master’s degree in Library studies has been relieved of her duties. Her job has been taken over by a Dr Don Karunanayake – a close friend of Dr. Chand.
“I just don’t know why I was not even shortlisted for an interview. Now this Dr. Karunanayake has hijacked the program for the development of Library program at SINU,” the ex-staffer said.
“Would you go back should an offer be made to you?. No, never. SINU has humiliated us in return for the years of service we’ve rendered to the university.”
Of the initial 26 Library staff, only eight were retained. The others who have spent many years working in the Library have simply been ignored.
The same situation also exists in the kitchen where the entire staff have been replaced by SINU students who have just completed hospitality studies, although the minimum requirements to work in the kitchen is that candidates must have at least five years’ experience.
All 281 retrenched staff are still waiting to be paid their entitlements.
By Alfred Sasako