Lukalanya boarding school in Nalikwanda area of Mongu in need of decent beds

By Kabukabu Kawanambulu Ikwueme

The move made by the National Constitutional conference to adopt the degree clause for presidential candidates, will shine a spotlight on Zambia‘s universities, which remain inaccessible to a large number of people in the country. This has led many students from affluent backgrounds to leave Zambia for further education in developed countries, hence a crippling brain drain. More needs to be done to bring our universities up to a decent standard and make them accessible. There is no escaping the fact that as foreign investments continue to pour into Zambia, the need to improve the skills base of the workforce in the country will grow.

The creation of wealth in Zambia, depends not just on the natural resources that lie beneath the earth but also in education that helps produce an educated citizenry well equipped to manage the country. Investing in people will increase the prospects of Zambia and Africa as a whole to gain its footing, relative to other countries in the world. The African Development Bank recently stated in its Global Economic prospects report that growth in Africa could accelerate from about 0.9% last year to 4.6% next year. If these figures are to be realised, most countries will have to devise viable strategies for investing in human resources and not just focus on what some critics like to call “Bantu education – an apartheid type of education” that provided very few skills – not adequate enough for a modern economy to survive.

It is a well known fact that a large number of academics in educational institutions in Africa, work under extremely difficult conditions. This has led to many brilliant minds leaving the continent for better prospects else where. Africa loses an average of 70,000 skilled professionals from many sectors each year. With public services and schools in a poor state, Zambia is facing a deepening crisis.

The government can not afford to ignore the higher education system which is creaking under pressure due to inadequate funding. A rise in the school going population has increased the competition to enter the three main institutions of higher learning. Many promising students are now ending up at the bottom of the pile and face a bleak life. The private universities that are now spread out in many parts of the country charge prohibitive fees. This is hardly a springboard for the economic success of a country.

Lessons can be drawn from Cameroon, one of the oil-dependant countries badly hit during the recession which has put universities at the forefront of development policy, by boosting the salaries of university academics in scientific fields. A government fund of almost $4.2 million was created in early 2009 from a windfall that became available after two major debts were written off. Already there are clear signs that the research environment that benefited from this cash injection has stabilised. The number of lecturers receiving the new allowances paid quarterly is now more than 2,500, up from 1,800 in the previous year. Many surveys have shown that boosting the morale of educators enhances performance. Weak teaching undermines the quality of graduates produced in institutions of higher learning. A new study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has shown a link between education and prosperity. The study showed that good educational attainment by graduates tends to be followed by measurable improvements in economic growth.

Many leading economies are now investing in universities in order to help economic growth and improve social mobility. If the trend of underinvestment in education continues economic growth in Zambia will be unsustainable.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. =d> this is a well written article.Indeed the brain drain is only getting worse in Zambia.If the Govt doesn’t give this issue the seriousness it deserves we will face a major skills shortage in Zambia.All ready we have dunderheads heading important institutions and making major policies.

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  2. Well said, I hope the govt could debate this instead of wasting time attacking opposition parties
    Kaunda was the best President coz he valued education despite having a degree

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  3. well said. there is so much demend for first degree for jobs when we only have one public university. there were plans to upgrade some colleges but i guess no one wanted to leave lusaka.

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  4. Good Evening

    Very good article addressing an important subject. Yes the need for good universities and higher learning institutions in the country can never be overrated. I am also one of those who were fortunate to benefit from KK’s system of free (to say nothing of the affordable PTA fees) primary and secondary school education and was even more fortunate to attain further education abroad.

    However, we must not ignore the fact that after attaining high qualifications, most of the Zambian youths end up withiout a pay roll and this has been the main cause of the much talked about brain-drain. We need a government that can assure the young people of long-term economic development and growth which is the guarantee for their employment. Only then will it make sense to invest in…

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  5. Probably if we can demand that first ladies don’t steal the meager resources MoE has, we can do better. The problem is not that there’s no money. It is how it is spent and on who.

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  6. It goes without saying: Where there is a will, there is a way.
    Learned people of Zambeziland have proved themselves wherever they sent to serve. The fact that people are paying exhorbitant fees in these new universites confirms thirst for education and readiness to help the country prosper… as the writer says~
    “..good educational attainment by graduates tends to be followed by measurable improvements in economic growth.

    This is not only RB and our MPs challenge, but all of us local and abroad to willing to plough back in Zambeziland and raise the standard of education vis a vis economy.

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  7. Kalos2020, too much on the first lady! you have misplaced your animosity, grow up mwaice nampo nga ni bamudala

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  8. # 13 Pabwingi, awe mune, nampo nga ni mudala, these people stole and in developed nations, Banda would not even be talking about re running in the next elections because of that crime. The problem Zambia is because we let some cases slide. Remember how Obama sweated his Pastor’s issue? I will not let go until Banda makes a comment about this issue. It was a crime and someone needs to go to jail. If it was you or me, we would be on the run or in jail for the same. Why should we let it slide? The law must visit her just like it visited those Military commanders. She is not special after all. Mudala do you the beds kids are sleeping on? How many beds do you think they would hve bought with the money she stole? How many meals in those boarding schools with that money?

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  9. Awe nangu ni Ironing board ,can you even iron your trousers on it,maybe overalls.The youths of Zambia have no hope under MMD.

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  10. That happens to fall in Prof Lungwangwa’s constituency. We all had a rough time getting educated save for those who happened to have benefitted from KK s initiatives. We need to quickly get those initiatives back as a country.

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