The Centre for Trade Policy and Development has appealed to President Edgar Lungu to urgently consider reopening CBU without any further delays.
CTPD Executive Director Isaac Mwaipopo said the organization os disheartened to note that the Copperbelt University has been closed for close to three months now.
Mr Mwaipopo said at the time of the closure, the reason that was given for the closure had to do with Students Protest that had taken place prior to the closure.
“The Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo informed the nation at the time that she had been forced to close the University because of the destructive behavior of the students and was going to reopen CBU after proper security features able to detect their activities are put up. Haven’t the students been punished enough?”
He said the silence over the closure of the CBU and the business as usual attitude that has characterized the past three months is not healthy for a country in so much need of development as Zambia.
“It is quite disappointing to note that as a nation we have been watching in silence while a hub of knowledge development such as CBU can remain closed for close to three months. What we know is that all progressive societies around the world have taken investments in the education sector as a panacea for sustainable economic development and poverty reduction. Sadly in Zambia we seem to be viewing education as a cost.”
Mr Mwaipopo said the investments in the education sector have continued to go down over the years.
“Over the years the country’s overall allocation to this very important sector has been going down. For example, in 2015 the total budgetary allocation was 20.2 %, in 2016 it was 17.2%, 2017 it was 16.5%. 2018 it came down to 16.1% and now in 2019 a total of 13.3 billion kwacha was allocated to the education sector translating to 15.3% of the total national budget.”
He said this is a clear drop when one considers where Zambia is coming from and the numerous challenges the sector is grappling with.
“CTPD is still of the view that much more resources need to be allocated to the sector given its numerous challenges and its importance to national development.”
He said the infrastructure in most of the Higher Institutions of Learning remains dilapidated and below the standards expected of such sacred institutions.
“The lecturers in these institutions are also very demotivated (CBU and UNZA to be specific) as they are owed huge amounts of money in arrears. It has now become a common phenomenon to hear of lecturer and other workers in our two universities getting paid very late. “
Mr Mwaipopo said this situation has hindered academic progress and research on the part of the lecturers.
“In extreme circumstances, it has led to disruption of learning process due to boycotts by our lecturers. In the whole circus the students bear the consequence of such actions. The money owed to the two universities is also quite huge. The For UNZA alone, it is estimated that employees and retirees are owed close to K600 million in unpaid gratuities.”
“In addition, the University is in serious debt which amounts close to K2.5 billion. This situation is not healthy for the nation. It has a potential to retard development and reverse all the little gains we have achieved over the years.”
He added, “If our public Universities are to improve on performance ratings. We urgently need to find better ways of resolving issues than resorting to disrupting the University calendar.”