Monday, February 26, 2024

Our Educational System was designed to produce workers and not Entreprenuers.


Emmanuel Mwamba

By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba

Do you wonder when you will use the knowledge from your Geography lessons about Canada, its prairies and it’s Great Lakes?

Do you wonder just when you will use the bulk of knowledge of irrelevant matters in courses you memorised, learnt and passed?

And your wonderful numeracy and literacy skills appear to be of no broader use to the practicality of our daily lives ?

Why are we churning out graduates year-in- year-out, trained, skilled, and prepared for jobs that barely exist in our economy?

Do you wonder why we have so many educated, skilled young people who don’t have jobs?

Dont you wonder how our education system is praised abroad that it is quality and produces skilled staff…Our engineers, architects, medical doctors, bankers and accountants are thriving in Australia, United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada and the USA but some are virtually unemployed in our own economy?


We have a population of about 9 million people eligible for work but only 1.3 million are employed in the formal sector.

According to Central Statistics Office 2017 Labour Force Survey, the working age population (15 years or older) was estimated at 9,056,840.

The labour force population was 3,398,294 and the youth labour force accounted 1,886,645.

The employed persons accounted for 2,971,170.

The number of employed persons in the formal sector was 1,357,186.

The informal and household sectors employed 922,476 and 691,508 persons, respectively.

The number of formally employed persons was 1,096,832 while that of informally employed persons was 1,874,337.


Two things are to blame.

1. Our education system designed to produce workers. (It also promotes white collar jobs and denigrates blue collar ones.)

2. Does not produce graduates that respond to the current structure of our economy.


It’s called a factory education or factory schools.

This education system as we know it is about 200 years old.

Before that, formal education was mostly reserved for the elite.

But as industrialization in Europe changed the way we work, it created the need for universal schooling.

“Factory schools,” as they are now called, originated in early 19th-century in Prussia.

For the first time, education was provided by the state and learning was regimented.

Dozens of students at a time were placed in grades according to their age, and moved through successive grades as they mastered the curriculum.

This took an industrialized approach to education which made it impersonal, but efficient, and standardized.

But character development, creativity, innovation an, entrepreneurship is missing.

Our schools were designed to produce the workforce required by 19th-century factories.

The desired product was workers who would sit silently at their benches all day, behaving identically, to produce identical products, submitting to punishment if they failed to achieve the requisite standards or marks.

Collaboration and critical thinking were just what the factory owners wished to discourage.

As far as relevance and utility are concerned our schools teach skills that are not only redundant to the information age but is counter-productive..


Our economy is highly informal, agrarian with a narrow base of formal employment.

The informal economy with a wide informal sector of the economy, or grey economy is the part of an economy that is neither taxed or difficult to tax, measure and hard to monitor by government.

The informal economy is also the diversified set of economic activities, enterprises, jobs, and workers that are not regulated or protected. It has been expanded to include wage employment in unprotected jobs.

Although the informal sector makes up a significant portion of the economies in developing countries, it is often stigmatized as troublesome or unmanageable.

You have probably heard from various experts that the size of Zambia’s economy(GDP) is far bigger than the $26.5billion.

Infact both the IMF and World Bank have since advised government to rebase the size of its economy to reflect the true activities in the economy.

But Zambia’s education curriculum produces graduates fit for a knowledge economy and not the informal economy.

It is for this reason that our graduates can thrive anywhere in the Western World but be stuck in our economy.

A knowledge economy on the other hand is an economy directly based on production, distribution and utilization of knowledge and information as fundamental enablers of growth, wealth creation and employment.

Take for example the case of the Zambia Center for Accountancy Studies College(ZCAS).

Zambia had such a critical shortage of qualified accountants, bankers and IT specialists that government partnering with the industry and cooperating partners created the College in the ZCAS 1988 Act of Parliament.

Before that such high skills could only be obtained abroad.

ZCAS is a leading and worldclass provider of tuition courses in Accountancy, Business and Information Technology programmes in the Southern African region.

Almost 30 years later, Zambia is probably the only place in Africa where you can find a highly qualified accountant or banker unemployed…we have created a saturation.

These graduates pursue careers elsewhere or abandon the expensively obtained skills and do something else.


We need to match the graduates to suit the current structure of our economy.

Probably we need a focused approach and fundamentally change our school curriculum and invest more in technical, vocational and entrepreneurial education, that promotes innovation, creates graduates that will employ themselves and employ others…graduates with skills to create jobs and wealth.


  1. W e should not under estimate the positive impact of the seemingly irrelevant broad education. Zambian professionals who had their foundation education in Zambia and now work in the diaspora stand tall and above their peers internationally who had a different and narrower education. We can only be compared to others who received a broad education like ours (based on the British system) from countries like Zimbabwe or Ghana for instance. I am based in South Africa and travel alot professionally being an international consultant in development finance. Very often, during engagements with partners and clients, they ask me which country I am from. When they learn that I am from Zambia, they remark something to the effect of how Zambians are so knowledgeable and impressive.

    • @blabla. You’re right on this. People who discourage the Zambian education system are people who were lazy and dull in both primary and secondary school. Those of us who enjoyed the challenge don’t have a problem with the broad nature of the Zambian education system. If you enjoy learning, you can always find our system very interesting. It gives you the ability to communicate with anyone easily intellectually cause you have pre-requisite knowledge that’s broad. Most workplaces are multi disciplinary including board rooms. Imagine you’re sitting in a meeting and your CEO mentions Canada or maybe the term amphibian (simple example) and you’ve never heard of it. You’ll be considered a fool. It’s also fun that the guy talking is also an employed person.

    • There is no educational system in the world that produces entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is street knowledge, you get it from making mistakes and learning from them. Even Bill Gates dropped out of university when he realised what a circus and a monumental sham formal education is. Formal education is designed to keep people wallowing in poverty and debt. Debt is addictive and the PF gabament is hooked. Make no mistake about it. Even Jesus never attended the schools of his day because the whole system is rotten with lies, half truths and nonsense.

    • Ba Mwamba, we hear your article(s) are of no implementation use in the press. You belong to the party in government. Write a detailed proposal & submit it on Lungu’s desk. Detailed, with hows. Otherwise to us readers this article is an example of an uncoordinating government. A failed government of PF

    • This article comes from a mind not accustomed to systemic thinking. Entrepreneurship is not a function of the entrepreneur alone. The entrepreneur operates within an environment and that environment has to conduce to or supportive of the entrepreneur’s efforts. Even the very best of seed if planted in dry barren soil won’t germinate, grow and bear fruit. Take the prevailing high interest rate regime and govt inability to pay its bills on time. Is Mwamba aware of how it is impacting on corporate balance sheets? Which business would thrive in such an environment? A govt which is in constant campaign mood had no time to evaluate what impact its actions are having on real people.

  2. Ok is see that’s so true Bwana Mwamba.Zambia doesn’t have any homegrown company with regional cross border branches like Kenya’s,Botswana’s and South African companies.Same reason why Lungu can’t run the economy well.

    • Bla bla, you do have a point. There is no point to this discussion without offering solutions. It is perhaps true of Emmanuel Mwamba who has chosen the path of worker, for that matter Zambian Government. The reality is that there are many Zambians who are entrepreneurs: Hanson Sindowe, HH. GBM, Alex Chikwanda, Fred Mmembe, Emmanuel Kasonde, Justin Chola etc. Companies like Zambeef are represented abroad, in Nigeria to be specific. Soda King a Zambian grown business exports to the region and has a great reputation having revolutionised Maheu/monkoyo. What about the my friend in Kalingalinga fabricating all manner of metal products that, btw, hardly have electricity. The issue is that many Zambians face many challenges including the ridiculous rending rates. Mr. Mwamba please do your bit to…

  3. This explains why elderly citizens over 60 years or older are busy retiring young people in national to create space for their tribal connections.They clamour for board chairpersons jobs coz really they can’t only survive when in formal employment.

    • Yaa because if someone start sausage business, you say they are cutting up ammakala with condoms.
      Mwebana ba mbwa mwe.

    • Even Emmanuel Mwamba himeself is just a parasite on government just as all PF carders pretending to be government when in actual sense are thugs stealing elections. They cannot survive outside government. Even if they have stolen so much, three four years outside government they will be walking without shoes. Including the so called president.

  4. Bwana Ambissador, most people who are successful in business have a natural talent (interest) for it. Even where someone gets an entrepreneurship education and endup being a success in business, they must have what it takes natuturally. Similarly, not everyone can be a good teacher, nurse or bricklayer even if they went to School to train in those fields. So we must stop cheating young people that they can all be this or that if they get the right training.

  5. Stupid abassador with full of lies, tell Zambians the trueth that our Zambia is a failled state not the failled education or failled citizenry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your are the very people who have failled our state because of corruption, nepotism, tribalism etc. You talk about enterprenueship in a dead economy not enabled economy where there is suppoprt for business such Bank loans. Worse of all you destroy mushrooming businesses by your heavy Tax!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Better you should shut up…….. other wise Edgar will fire you because he will think you have Presidential ambitions…….. Surely you can make a better President than ECL…………………………

    • @Musa. The guy who’s busy writing the nonsense is also employed. Why hasn’t he gone into entrepreneurship and left government jobs to other people. Emmanuel mwamba is a civil servant. Why hasn’t he started a TV station, Radio station or some PR firm and built an empire out of it instead of chasing government jobs. These guys are trying to run away from the fact that the PF government has failed to create jobs for Zambians so they’re trying to blame citizens and the long established education system for their failures. Even in the developed world, governments prioritise job creation for young people not telling them to become entrepreneurs because the government has failed. Entrepreneurship should be an option.

  6. Very true…Zambia is now full of SCHOOLED people. Just compare our so called uni students with other regions. We have schooled people in offices operating like robots. No innovation….

  7. This man seems not to know what he is talking about. Praising the system here and attacking it there – same paragraph. Bwana we just dont have jobs in Zambia. Just create the jobs and see how these young men and women can shine using the same education that you yourself failed to pass but still got a job. No wonder our education system is not being promoted its because of dunder.heads like you. Be resolute and think outside the box.
    Why are Zambians marketable outside Zambia??? Do you think people can employ Zambians in diaspora if they did not have the education that they need out there. Just fund the education system properly and see even better results. Government does not fund any school now and you want teachers to perform. Dont just attack from without. You are just exposing too…

  8. It pains me when you go to buseko market and see the beautiful timber Zambia has but see the ugly and cheap furniture on freedom way imported from China for example. Our education system programs our minds to cut down our trees and export them-it doesn’t teach us how to manipulate our natural resources. On point ambassador.

    • @Zambian citizen.
      I think you’re wrong. Making furniture to the standards that China produces is not a simple task. You need a lot of money as capital to buy machinery that can do that sort of job. Unless you’ve seen very ugly furniture from China but the kind that I see from China is beautiful and thinking that you can just get your axe and cut trees and then make furniture out of it is a big joke. The Chinese have responsible governments that give loans to people with good business ideas.

    • It’s not just furniture, open your mind, man! If you lived on the CB you know there’s a lot of gemstones which can be made into a thriving jewellery industry if we had a strong education system which leans towards our resources. Emmanuel has highlighted a fundamental flaw in our system as we evolve-for you to praise and compare us to the Chinese one on one just proves your vague understanding of Emmanuel’s point!

  9. Great write up with the right intention bwana ambassador. It’s encouraging to know we have people out there thinking at a more broader social-econmic level than what is right before their noses. Alas I should add that it is one of those luxuries those of us in the diaspora have of being exposed to best practices and of course we are far away from the frontline of our economic struggles. One hallmark of an original or innovator is time spent abroad, it does indeed give one a rich perspective on various issues. I don’t agree with you however on reforming our education system altogether as much as I would suggest complementing it with programs/courses on entrepreneurship and/or creativity. Many countries this one (China) included which is quite wealthy compared to Zambia do struggle in…

  10. ……struggle in producing graduates who can creatively apply their knowledge to solving social problems or starting businesses. America the model of capitalism and entrepreneurship has at the center of it’s social philosophy the concept of ‘self reliance’ which was the brain child of one Ralph waldo Emerson. The ‘American dream’ is founded on the precept of ‘equal effort for equal gain.’ It is a way of life not an education policy. Having been a beneficiary of Zambian education, I can only but be grateful for my high standing among peers of other nationalities in terms of breadth of Knowledge. It is because of those geography lessons that I got to learn and know about China where I am today, it saved me a great deal of culture shock. I find many youths of today who despite raised…

  11. ….despite raised and born in the digital/information culture are quite shallow in their grasp of cultural-social issues essential for survival in this globalised age. It would indeed serve us well to broaden our curricula instead of diluting it. Learning and especially intellectual growth happen over a lifetime. May I take this opportunity to thank all the teachers laboring in today’s Zambian classrooms especially in rural areas, “mwabombeni mukwai.”

  12. Bitter Hakiende h and his inherited under 5 party is a good example of the education system Mwamba speaks about. Ordinarily, even Mwamba wouldn’t be employed had it not been for political goodwill. Now back to this chap with a calculator who thinks he is heaven sent.Hakiende is said to be wealthy but if you look at his contribution to job creation he has hired ill-paid herdsmen to look after his flock. His massive earnings from selling national assets through ‘infestment’ advice went off-shore until the Panama papers found the money. So indeed with such thinking the education bitter Hakiende got makes him behave the way he does and all talk of education this and that if he went to plot 1 is lip service ask his herdsmen.

  13. But arent you the ones in power busy intimidating opposition, enriching your selves, promoting the pf cadre “movement”….l dont understand you.

  14. The thesis is obscured by personal sentiments. Education is one of social institutions. Other social institutions include economy, polity, security, culture and healthcare. It is inaccurate to put the blame for high unemployment on education per se. Assuming education was also in need of improvement, then what aspect of education was particularly critical for employment creation? Who must create entrepreneurs? Is the State Owned Enterprise more effective in employment creation than the Private Owned Enterprise? There is nothing wrong about the current education system even though more needs to be done at Quality Assurance level and Universal Access. Our graduates are independent creative free thinkers capable of anything, including employment creation. Take time to develop the country.

  15. “….creates graduates that will employ themselves and employ others…graduates with skills to create jobs and wealth…..”

    You are now admitting PF is a failed GRZ, whose only preoccupation is clinging to power , looting and abousing democratic rights of the opposition….

    In all the western world or developt world governments were and still are the main driving force to job creation , itentifiying and creating critical industries then in some cases privertising them…..

  16. True, but this song has been sung since I don’t know…. The question is what are we doing as a country on the same? 54 years after independence and we still have to depend on colonial masters for policy direction. We cant even coin our own curriculum.

  17. Mr. Mwamba you have a point but I tend to slightly disagree with you if your comment is just generalized without pinpointing at what point in time our education system went wrong. It wasn’t bad all along. I like your elaborate reference to the progression of education from a customized teaching of the elite in the very old days to the standardization of education during the industrial era. But let’s stick to Zambia. During the Kaunda era our education system was stratified to incorporate all levels of intellectual capacities; those who could attain degrees, Diplomas, Certificates in technical courses, artisans etc. Even youths who had failed grade 9 then, could be entered into carpentry colleges and become productive. A good example here was the skills youths got from the mandatory…

  18. Great write up Emmanuel.Thanks!Those with ears will listen and make use of such insights the arm chair critics….well…cant say much except to say …”the poor you will have” perhaps the bible talks about such individuals.


  20. Very true…..the education system must not be based too much on white collar job but Entrepreneurial and practical

  21. got from the mandatory National Service enrollment after completing grade 12. From National Service down to training institutions that could incorporate grade 9s etc, at the end of the day we had a reservoir of trained staff that could virtually do anything, from self-employment to working for institutions. The problem with the current education system is its emphasis on obtaining degrees. If you have no degree you won’t get a job or so you will be made to believe. This is evident in almost all the job advertisements. This has led to the mushrooming of a zillion colleges and universities that have taken advantage of this want; churning out degree holders. The drawback with almost all of these degrees is that they are theory based and you can only make use of them when formally employed…

  22. The drawback with almost all of these degrees is that they are theory based and you can only make use of them when formally employed. Unlike in the Kaunda era, most ‘graduates’ from various training institutions had ‘hands on’ training that easily necessitated their entry into the entrepreneurial sphere if the going went tough.

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