UPND Bweengwa Member of Parliament Highvie Hamududu has charged that the Zambian education system is on trial and has failed to bring value to the lives of ordinary people.
Mr Hamududu explained that the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University are not viable because they are run using a wrong template.
He was speaking in Parliament recently when he made contributions to a motion to adopt a report of the Committee on Education, Science and Technology titled “The Delivery of Education in Institutions of Higher Learning.”
“Why should a university Vice-Chancellor be a professor, one who cannot manage? Today, universities are led by people with enterprise. You can still put a professor with research credentials, but you need a Business Development Manager in the university because, at the end of the day, a university is a business that produces goods and services,” Mr Hamududu stated.
He said currently, the management of public universities is not in sync with the developments of the knowledge economy.
“So, should a professor who learnt how to dissect a mosquito run a university and manage human beings? While I respect a Professor who operated on a mosquito, which I cannot do, one cannot sit there and manage a university. It is not relevant. So, go there and review the policy,” he said.
Mr Hamududu said he wondered when he served as a member of the Public Accounts Committee how a university teaching students to manage institutions could come before the Committee with irregularities describing it as a management failure.
“The irregularities that we encounter in PAC are a result of management failure. It is now Parliament that is managing. We ask about imprest, which is a management issue. Should Parliament now do everything? Must we tell them how to do their documentation?” he asked.
Mr Hamududu has since called for re-engineering the management of universities in Zambia.
“For example, there is enough capacity at the CBU and UNZA to generate income beyond teaching. However, the institutions have very punitive formulae. For example, if I am a lecturer and get a project with the United Nations (UN), the institution would want to take all the income that has been generated by my brain.”
He continued, “So, the universities must change the formulae so that, for any project that a lecturer takes to the university, he or she should get 50 per cent of the income generated. Then, you will see how much money will be earned. Currently, there is a very big disincentive by management when one gets a job, and there are many jobs out there.”
He said over the years, the Zambian education system has not been practical but theoretical especially generic theory.
Mr Hamududu said the country has a mushrooming of private universities that offer Euro-centric education, which are not relevant to situation and not linked to the industry.
“Drive through Katimamulilo Road and see the industry there. Our education system must add value to what is happening there. When you go to Panganani Street, the young people there will fix anything on your car. Our education system must equally add value there. That way, you will see us create employment and produce graduates who can solve the current problems. We cannot have everyone pursuing Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees everywhere. Which business? Will you work in those countries?”
He said there is need to have qualifications that are born from reality on the ground.
“Parliament is the apex body in this country. All the 14 million Zambians chose 150 Hon. Members to make decisions for them. This House has, over the years, been failing Zambians. So, we must question what education really did to us. If education cannot make us sit together and sort out national problems, then, we should question our education, as hon. Members here.”
“Mr Speaker, look at the issue of the Constitution, for example. We cannot make a Constitution in fifty years.”
“We cannot continue the way we have been doing things. The private sector has come on board. Partner it. You can leverage on that. For example, commend the University of Lusaka for doing something good and give it 10 ha of land in Silverest and promise to do the same with Cavendish University if it met the criteria,” he proposed.
“That is the leverage. That is an incentive you would be providing. These institutions are busy running universities on top of shops next to bars so that you do not know whether you are going into a bar or a university. You call that a university?