Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu
Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, 9 March, the Minister of Education, Dr Michael Kaingu announced that:
1) government was considering reopening the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University that were shut down after students engaged in violent students protests to demand meal allowances that had not been paid

2) the universities would be reopened on or close to 10th April

if/when the universities reopen, government will no longer disburse meal allowance as students bursaries require.

3) for the universities to open the CBU and UNZA councils and administration will have to:

a. implement major security changes to include the installation of surveillance cameras, flood lights , advanced student identification systems, strict regulation of entry and exit of visitors to the campuses and the purchase of radio communication equipment for university security.

b. expel all lecturers students and staff deemed to have been ring leaders in the most recent protests

4) Government will from January 2017 setup a loan system to replace the current bursaries

To my recall, never in the history of this country has such a rash, not thought through statement on such a fundamental issue facing the country been made with such reckless abandon by a Minister in Parliament.

It was a statement that showed a government that has become so accustomed to anarchical governance that it has lost touch with the basics of orderly management of a country. The statement came across as an arrogant thumb suck that said to citizens “we are in power and we do not need to think when we speak.”

The absence of any interrogation of what taking away meal allowances in a middle of an academic year means was astounding. Even more shocking was declaring that universities that are failing to provide even the most basic requirements for a 21st century higher education should find money to turn campuses into army barracks.

In order to pass as a statement that had been accorded even minimum thought by Cabinet, critical information needed to be given by the Minister some of which is:

1) How many students are on bursaries and will therefore be affected by the withdrawal of meal allowances at such short notice?

2) What are government immediate plans for students who cannot afford to pay for their own meals some already in their last year of study?

3) Why did government not set up the loan scheme and then withdraw bursaries/meal allowances?

4) Has a cost analysis of the security changes that government demands universities implement before they can reopen been done? If so what is the envisaged cost?

5) Where will the money for those changes come from?

6) If money to turn campuses into army barracks is available, is this how it can best be used?

7) What plans does government have for the allocation to student meal allowances in the 2015 national budget? To what will it be redirected?

8) How long is government prepared to keep the two universities closed if they cannot implement the security measures?

9) How will government prevent students from doing what we all know students do when they are treated this way?

My reaction as a citizen to Minister Kaingu’s statement on the universities is the realization that we have a government that has so mismanaged public resources that it has no idea what to do to address the budget deficit. It is a government that is in resource panic mode and is therefore thumb sucking decisions to fill the huge holes that it has dug into the public fiscus. My considered view as a citizen who was totally floored by the off-the-cuff sounding statement made by the Minister of Education is that he must (be made to) go back to the drawing board to think through the proposals he made to the house. When he returns to Parliament, we can only hope that he makes a statement that shows respect for the citizens of this country. Meanwhile the citizens of this country need to refuse to accept the governance nonsense we saw in Parliament on Wednesday.

By Laura Miti

Private citizen

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19 COMMENTS

  1. I love Laura Miti. Always on point, spear headed. Even her tweets she’s always speaking her mind.
    Kaingu says that student loans will be introduced in 2017. Yeah, that’s if PF will still be reigning otherwise I don’t see any other government apart from PF ill-treating these students & playing SOJO with their academic life

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    • This is the government which said that there is enough money for salary increases for Ministers and MPs. This is the same government that decided to build 10 more universities. Now we understand that they did not have a plan on how they were going to have the money for salary increments and bursaries for students in all those universities. It’s CNP! Yaba! Ifintu kuyabebele!

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  2. And those children / students don’t they have parents? Research has shown that 3 quarters of those on bursary are actually not from vulnerable homes. How do other students from at other govt Universities / Colleges manage? Is it that those at UNZA /CBU are the poorest. Students needs to start behaving responsibly

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  3. In Zambia we have so many Government universities and colleges but only two (UNZA and CBU) are eligible for bursary. Why? What criteria is being used here? What about Mukuba, Nkhrumah, and Mulungushi University. Are the students from these Universities NOT poor Zambians who need bursary as well. For some who do not know some Government colleges have tuition fee higher than UNZA and CBU but nobody is paying for them apart from their poor parents.

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  4. UNZA and CBU were set up to win the world Wide recognition. Don’t compare them to these other Universities. You dull people should also know that bursary is not just in Zambia but in the Constitution of every government of the world. In Finland education is free from primary to University. Don’t take politics to education your food you will destroy your country.

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    • The degrees you get from there are only recognised in some african countries. What international status are you talking about? The busary rules are clear. Once you engage in riots you loose your bursay.

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  5. UNZA and CBU are over glorified secondary schools! How do you call those hoodlums as universities? Students get meal allowances and the first thing they do is to indulge in substance abuse, “imports” and end up with sexually transmitted diseases. The student hostels are full of noise blaring from all sorts of stereos and TVs- poor learning environment. Let students go to universities with the sole purpose of studying and not flirting about with their future. Meal cards are welcome, eat from the “dingo”!

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    • UNZA and CBU students are NOT the only ones in this country that they should be taking people at ransom. They should know that the allowances they get are NOT rights but mire privileges. We are the ones paying for these chaps through tax payers system and in the end what do we get? our property being destroyed using the same money we give them. Madam Miti you can hang yourself if you want, we can’t continue tolerate this nonsense from these institutions. By the way, what is so specil about these two institutions which other universities don’t have? These are the consequences of stu pid people.

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    • You must be extremely dull, how long will it take the dingo to feed the more than 9000 on bursary?

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    • UNZA is meant to harness the country’s best brains. That’s why UNZA has very strict selection regulations guided not by money but excellence. Example, only candidates with 6 points are selected for natural sciences and later do Engineering, Medicine etc, 8 points and below are selected for humanities etc to later do Economics, BMC, Law etc. The Government has the responsibility to ensure that these best brains don’t go to waste regardless of their background of poverty and vulnerability by providing these allowances You cant compare UNZA with Unilas for example. Unilas is driven by the desire to make money. Anybody with credit or better is admitted.

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  6. The world ratings of universities leaves UNZA/CBU in a pathetic position. The new private universities have better university learning environments and inculcate better morals in students than these two universities of “Stone throwers” graduates. Even the lecturers and researchers have misguided objectives and are sadistic, they aim at proving to other learners how hard their subject areas are than to pass valuable skills and produce better trained individuals- no wonder we keep churning out semi literate graduates seeking to apply their mediocre skills to hapless institutions and companies-mediocre degrees!

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  7. UNZA is meant to harness the country’s best brains. That’s why UNZA has very strict selection regulations guided not by money but excellence. Example, only candidates with 6 points are selected for natural sciences and later do Engineering, Medicine etc, 8 points and below are selected for humanities etc to later do Economics, BMC, Law etc. The Government has the responsibility to ensure that these best brains don’t go to waste regardless of their background of poverty and vulnerability by providing these allowances You cant compare UNZA with Unilas for example. Unilas is driven by the desire to make money. Anybody with credit or better is admitted.

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  8. Imwe, PF can not run anything where there is no chance for them to loot.
    Agriculture, tourisim and manufacturing sectors are all in decline because every one in PF was concentrating on road and other building projects because that is where they are able steal from by giving each other over inflated prices.

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  9. Universities are closed and youths say nothing in their youth day speech. What a shame. Who do you want to speak for you? Are you just being used to praise the government? Am disappointed.

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  10. some people are Soo dull, how can one who has a brain say that he pays students through tax? first of all do u pay tax indirectly or directly? mwana malayambi dont u know that the same money that is paid to students goes back in governments pocket? students pay the same money they get as tax when they use the same money so work up and dont think u r intelligent u r just jealous coz u have Never had such an opportunity…

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  11. Does UNZA still harness the best brains? I don’t think so. There is corruption at UNZA. It is who you know and you get a place even if the results are at Division 2. What is UNZA’s position in the universities of the world? The institution has lost credibility worldwide. The standard of education is poor and the calibre of the UNZA graduate very low. In the past the UNZA graduate would have fitted in anyway. Now you have students barding in Kalingalinga drinking illicit beer!

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