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Alba Iulia
Friday, May 29, 2020

The Untold Truth about the plight of a CBU student

Columns The Untold Truth about the plight of a CBU student

File:CBU students leave campus after government closed it indefinately


In a vehemently emotional invoking plea, the untold truth about the plight of CBU students continues to haunt the debasement and sub-standardization of Zambia’s higher education sector. CBU has been robbed off its voice, pride and academic excellence due serious Managerial handicap and reckless unconcerned management of its academic affairs.

The hidden truth is that since the inception of the institution in 1987, CBU was built to the capacity befitting that of a college formerly called Zambia institute of technology(ZIT) which was later transformed into the university of Zambia Ndola campus (UNZANDO) and subsequently turned it into a University named now as The Copperbelt University (CBU). At this particular point Bursary scheme was extended to the University. UNZA was the first institution to benefit from the scheme, in addition to those who went to study overseas. The people who benefited from the scheme are professors today.

32 years down the line since its inception, the general public and the nation at large has never concerned itself or rather put responsible authorities to task on how the infrastructure development has expanded proportionately to the increased enrollment numbers of students from 152 students who matriculated students as the first intake in 1987 to the current numbers standing at 14,000 plus registered students.

We have never bothered to know how the University has integrated its technological advancement, improve its academia by providing necessity facilities such as a fully furnished and modern library, increased capacity building in terms of classes, lecture theaters, scientific laboratories, hostels to provide decent accommodation to students and indeed departmental offices. A precise answer and accurate update to the general public and the nation to the queries above is that CBU is still same. It has remained unchanged with stunted University infrastructure development except sham beautifying changes made to its environment and selective office paintings.

All these factors have contributed to the degraded academic standards of the institution which Management and other authorities responsible have ignored but rather focused on politicization of matters affecting the institution. The institution needs proper well-structured management of its affairs which will concern itself with improving the academic environment and making it conducive for the learners.


In most instances, the first thing that comes to the mind of every Zambian child either in school or not, parents as well as students from other universities/colleges and generally the public once they hear about CBU or UNZA, is the bursary currently called student’s loan scheme which was established to support vulnerable students.

This scheme has had given serious problems to the two institutions in the recent past as a result of student unrest due to delayed payments of meal and book allowances attached to the loan scheme package.

Despite the problem being partially resolved by governments decision to scrap off living allowances and introduction of agonizing monthly payment of meal and book allowances for those already on the loan scheme, the important aspect which authorities had failed to recognize is that the organized confusion at the institution was actually as a consequence of delayed disbursement of student’s meal allowances, lack of proper communication and shunned dialogue with student leaders. As expected, students have been put at the receiving end by blaming them for taking alternative means of demanding for their entitled allowances and on several times we have been labeled to be thugs by the society.

They have ignored the fact that almost 90 percent of students come from either poor or middle income families which can only offer minimum support not rising above their basic income of course. The untold truth is that the greatest incitement and opposition political player we have had is hunger and nothing else. Hunger strikes everyone irrespective of your political affiliation and the best way to resolve this organized confusion caused by delayed payments and hunger was timely disbursement of the said allowance and creating room for dialogue with students.

Students cry for proper dialogue and engagement with both government and management but monologue and issuing of instructions to our leaders has been the order of the day. We are being denied of our rightful democratic privilege to voice and air out our genuine concerns consequently leading to avoidable unrest and riots. Our grievances are always hidden from the public for unknown reasons and once things get out of hand we are blamed for everything without flip-flopping or rather looking at other side of the story.


CBU is closed today as a result of Management’s failure to handle two resolvable issues, the 50% continuous assessment (CA) threshold and 80% tuition fee payment threshold which school Management had set as the minimum requirement for students to sit for final sessional exams. The two policies were solely agreed upon by the university senate and Management without the involvement of student leaders.

The other aspect that school authorities have paid a blind eye to is that, CBU as a second highest university in the country it does not even have enough furniture in lecture rooms, there’s no study space for over 14,000 students due to scarcity of classrooms and the library can only accommodate 150 students to its full capacity hence management still insisted on imposing a theoretical way of uplifting academic standards unlike a pragmatic one by addressing these challenges earlier stated above.

Implementing such policies (50% CA & 80% Tuition fee threshold) would have meant that 85 percent of students who were supposed to sit for mid-year sessional exams would’ve been put off the exam room and were not eligible to write. Deviating from the main course why the institution existed which is to enable students attain quality education, be assessed, sit for exams and graduate at the end of the day.

Not overlooking the struggle of poor students, parents and even students themselves because some of the students are orphans. They strive very hard to raise funds to pay for tuition fees especially those on 75% bursary and self-sponsorship. And management has come up with an online system and a policy which compels students to pay off arrears before they access their seasonal results. Students have always made a commitment to pay off arrears despite not reaching the 80% payment threshold and it has worked well in the recent past without bleeding any conflict between the two parties.

We shall not allow inconsistency and conflicting policies to be enforced just like that.CA threshold is just a theoretical way of uplifting academic standards but rather ensuring that the institution has proper labs, heavy equipment for engineering students, expanded library capacity with updated study material and having a motivated academic environment is the most practical way of uplifting the academic excellence and standards of the university.

In addition, delayed lectures’ monthly salaries has been a demotivation factor to the lectures hence hindering academic research works and disruption of learning process due to boycotts by our lecturers when not paid as usual students bear the consequence of such. As we may be aware that a university with advanced research works and a motivated learning environment is expected to raise its academic standards and compete favourably both locally and internationally, our case at CBU suggests otherwise.

But alas, the perception of reality is more real than reality itself. Yes, a misconception has already been created that students only cry and demand for meal allowances which has been a source of disruption for many years now but when students raises all these aforementioned concerns school Management tend to shun dialogue and pay a deaf ear to our cries. If we exude huge insistence to have these issues resolved on a round table discussion, our leadership is compressed to the darkest corners of fear and a vacuum in leadership continues to establish itself as result of such.


We humbly appeal to His Excellency the Republican President and The Line Ministry to accept our apology for damage of public property caused due to unrest and riots which broke out lately and consider the plight of over 14,000 students coming from different homes whose future have been put on hold and in serious quagmire as graduation is no way nearer due the indefinite closure of the institution.

We plead with The Republican President to show mercy upon us as we have shown resilience and remorse for our riotous action. A lesson has been learnt and new chapter should be opened for your children your Excellency.

We also appeal to the authorities that all the issues which led to the closure of the institution can be easily resolved through an Open-dialogue with the student leadership if a proper platform is accorded and a chance to be heard is given. The prosperity and future of our country is been derailed with over 14000 students having been sent home contributing literally nothing to the growth of our economy. Students are the think tank of this country and reinstating them back in school will immensely have a huge positive transformation on the general outlook of our economy and international image.


Education is the greatest weapon to fight poverty with, and a nation which educates its citizens, is a prosperous nation. We appeal to all non-governmental and civil society organizations, the church and indeed the general public to give a helping hand in the advocacy for reopening of CBU having known the consequences which led to the indefinite closure of the institution.

We say No to # violence and Yes to # open -dialogue. # Divided we fall # united we stand.
Our education our right, open CBU.

BY Mathews C. Chanda

[Read 3,808 times, 1 reads today]


  1. How can a normal person 21st century be carrying a brief case. This tells you what type of students are at this uni. Govt should just encourage this guys to apply at other unis in the country and begin developing the zcit campus into a university of mining. Let this department from unza shift to CB also.


    • Ati when some students who have not prepared for exams, they orchestrate and cook up chaos at the University.
      Wh does that. They never learn these terrorists students.
      Extremely backwards.

  2. Your Excellence, I beg you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ NOT to open CBU. I Stay along Jambo Drive and have been a victim of students’ mob riots. I was injured in the fracas and my daughter lost one from a stone thrown at my vehicle. Every time I look at my daughter, I am reminded of that day when she lost the eye and it reminds me of the NOTORIOUS AND ROWDY students of CBU!!!!!

  3. The article is flawed. The Government supports over 85% of students of which about 75% are on Bursary. The other 25% of the 85% on Bursary can afford. The remaining can afford. Do not use your vulnerability as an excuse to misbehave. 50% for CA is extremely fine unless you went into the University through leakages. Check all those that failed CAs, most likely these cannot even write proper English nor solve Mathematical questions. These are simply dull! What is buffaloing more is the fact the ones who start these riots are on 100% Bursary who are only expected to pay other fees of about K1020 to K2300. Ladies and Gentlemen before you get BC, you would have paid already 30 to 50% of your fees. Loans Board gives K2,200 per term. Why can’t you use part of it to settle the little balance…

  4. Voting for failures this what you get, don’t expect heaven on earth by voting for failures even after they tell you they have no vision for you. Citizens need to vote based on policies, not songs and excitement now you see what you get after the excitement is over. Our leadership has a great vision about how they are going to enrich themselves but none on how they will fix our broken systems and the cycle continues

  5. The country is bigger than an individual.Zambians let us be united and please hate speech should not be encouraged.These are our future Leaders we can give them another chance.” Umwana kasembe.” Students please always analyse situations before you do anything e.g is the economy doing well to meet your demands.Be reasonable and do not fall in the trap.

  6. It is very difficult to understand this write-up.Grammar and composition is terrible.And to think that the author was a student leader and is a senior student gives me the creeps.

  7. The author is this article is a lazy and failed student. The article is full of inaccuracies which he would avoided if he conducted a little of research. CBU was not established in 1987 but the first intake was in 1979.
    People like Dr Mumembe, Felix Mutati, Bradford Malumbe, etc were the first University students at CBU on transfer from UNZA Great East Road Campus. The first set of graduates from CBU was in 1982.
    Students of these days are too lazy to do research and I wont even bother to educate anyone – develop a culture of reading not complaining. My father is one of the first graduates from UNZANDO (now known as CBU).

    • Chilyata, you have now stopped insulting? You have finaly grown up. How young are you now?

  8. prolonged closure is not the solution to the crisis.let us not perpetuate blame and regret when man is aggrieved damage or loss of property is inevitable and in such circumstances only a few hooligans stray and innocent majority fall in the trap but as parents do you cling to spilt milk ? .Leaders! for give them. Remember other people tolerated you at one time in life.
    These young men and women may physiologically appear older than their ages but not emotionally stable
    Students remember your roles:obedient,adhering to university rules of conduct , humbleness,studying and pass exams. avoid group discussions leading to conflicts with school authorities and the public ukupoka icinsenda ku nkoko kunakilila. Pilikiti tanasha fikali


  10. In China students don’t demonstrate. Rubbish!!! You think just because you have qualified to university, the government owes you anything? That’s backward thinking, no country on this world has helped it’s students like our government of Zambia has done.

  11. Let it remain closed then we will see who will be on the losing end. For how long are we going to talk about this issue. A law should be passed that any student caught breaking private or public property should be fined and jailed a maximum of five years. That way these students will know what they go to school for.

  12. Based on the comments above, I bet most of the people commenting have never stepped foot in the corridors of a university, you can tell by the bitterness in their tone. Any person who has been to university knows that the closure of CBU is unreasonable, the universities have functioned a certain way for years and produced giod graduates. What has changed in order to necessitate the changes is the fact that government is broke. The students are just behaving theway students have behaved since time immemorial….

  13. I am a former CBU student. I actually went to the institution in the transition and almagamation period of UNZANDO and ZIT into CBU. The student protests are not new, but today’s protests lack intellectual basis and backing. I remember Gardiner Shiyanda and the likes of ‘Double Eagle’ propounding on the Kashoki grounds before going “JAMBO DRIVE”. May, maybe perhaps there has not been proper handover????

  14. Honestly, the writer of this article Mathews Chanda, is appealing to our sentiments and working up some sympathy for unrurly students who forget the harshness of life in Zambia and that education is a privilege not a right. No fees , No learning WORLDWIDE! Once you get an opportunity to learn, and paid for, you do your best. THERE IS NO EXCUSE for damaging university property or becoming mobilised cadres for political parties. Where are they now? And look where you are. Even here in the West, student loans are sometimes delayed to the detriment of the student and their academic year. I once received my student loan 1 year after the academic year it was due in and by that time the university had booted me out, taken me to court for student halls arrears , even though they had a…

    • I once received my student loan 1 year after the academic year it was due in and by that time the university had booted me out, taken me to court for student halls arrears , even though they had a letter from Student Loans advising processing of funds. Very destressing! But we did not damage university property.

      Chanda you and your student buddies have lost purpose, become righteous to a privilege. I don’t understand your type of behaviour, no need for violence and stop trying to get for understanding for such conduct. Most students, just ‘STUDY, PARTY AND BULLSHI*T.’, aka Biggie Smalls famous song. Do likewise.

  15. @Ichana, your comment leave much to be desired. Where in this world is there a reason to burn your own houses and that of your neighbours. Stoning innocent motorists who equally have their children is inimical to the well being of the so called learning institution. What kind of leaders are we going to produce if we accept this CBU lawlessnes? Granted, they might have their genuine grievances but one does not get to the level of even burning their own house just because they are angry. And by the way, I have a masters degree. Abash lawlessnes.

  16. In as much as rioting and damaging property is not right the issue here is sponsorship- students need to learn as lecturer cannot teach on an hungry stomach. It is very unfair to all zambians as most of your leader went through free education most of you we have not even seen your parents who could have contributed to your education. You were all from poor background and the father of the nation kk in his wisdom educated you through free education now you are holding the country at ransom. SHAME ON YOU , REMEMBER YOU ARE COUNTERABLE TO GOD.

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