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Alba Iulia
Sunday, September 27, 2020

Africa’s education system produces white-collar bureaucrats who can’t perform, innovate, write, research, develop or produce

Columns Africa's education system produces white-collar bureaucrats who can't perform, innovate, write, research,...

ANTONIO Mwanza said it is impossible for the UPND to win the 2021 general

By Antonio Mwanza

“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously,” Aristotle

“You can go to school but you can’t buy class,” Jay Z.

The last two weeks or so we have been subjected to some infantile and petty debate about grown ups calling each other names about their qualifications; who is an economist and who is not, blah blah blah.

First, it was the medical doctors, then the pilots then the lawyers, then the engineers now it is the economists bragging about their qualifications and calling each other names.

I would rather people show us their works and not their papers.

The problem with Africa’s education system is that it produces white-collar bureaucrats who can’t perform, innovate, write, research, develop or produce.

It’s about schooling/acquiring papers and not education/knowledge acquisition.

Like Mr Sata used to say, “We have Engineers who can’t even mend a pot hole, we have professors who can’t even write a book.”

Africa is producing thousands upon thousands of graduates; bachelors, masters and PHD holders every year but where are the fruits; where is the development, where is the innovation, where is research and development, the M&E, where is the entrepreneurship, the social mobility, the human development?

Are our graduates helping us with their education or it’s just papers?

Let us focus on using our education to lift up people, to change our attitudes, to change our societies and to advance human development and not to brag and demonize one another otherwise our education will be rendered useless.

Let me conclude by quoting Proverbs 16:16, wisdom is far much better than knowledge.

Happy sabbath and may God bless you all.


  1. You speak selective truth. You need to place your thoughts into context. In 1990 when mmd came to power they systematically went about dismantling state run industry in the hope that the space occupied by the state would be filled by private citizens. Suddenly men who had little academic acumen became rich. The researchers you talk about are in the diaspora somewhere, innovation is not nurtured because the nation is a consuming not producing nation.


    • Antonio Mwanza is talking nonsense. I’m sure he enjoys bondwe vegetable. It’s Zambian scientists who developed the seed. Truth is education is underfunded and research even more underfunded. That is wht he should hv talked about.

  2. Mr Mwanza,you may have a point,however,research and innovation come at a cost.Just recently researchers at National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) went on strike demanding unpaid salaries.Now if an institute which was established by govt through Science and Technology Act of 1997,whose core functions is to take a lead in scientific and industrial research,cannot be adequately funded,how do you expect private companies to source funds and/or budget for the creation of a Research and Development( R&D) departments? Very few govt departments or SOEs have R &D departments ,or do they depend on the underfunded NISIR? R&D departments are the engines of innovation,improvement,inventions etc and attracts incentives from sponsors.Mr Mwanza,my questions is,are there…

  3. Mr Mwanza,my question is,are there incentives that will make people do more research work at the expense of being an employee? And are research work appreciated and applied or shelved? If they are not applied and/or shelved,then it is a disincentive.Govt must take a leading role as research sponsor and create an enabling environment for freelance researchers and those in the private sector to flourish.

    • Yes indeed Africans need to study this education system and find out if is the right one to propel Africa to development or it is there to keep us at the same level colonisers left us.
      Yes Africa does not need to continue on the path the foreigners left them to walk in we know it hasn’t changed anything to the continent.
      Great men confront such systems with deeper analysis to solve the sticking problems.
      I remember in my younger age how we used to boast that I don’t touch dirt Iam a white person and I only work a few hours in a day.
      Well these sayings couldn’t be past to some people in our continent.
      Ever since I have been on this other side of the world, I have found out that the the opposite is true, here people work very hard and very long hours even twelve hours a day doing…

  4. Less comments when there is something that makes sense. However if government is giving key positions to caders who are not even educated in order to appease them what would become of the educated person. You have a minister of mines who is a teacher by profession whose fault is that?. In tough times as these even if you are educated it is hard to start something on your own many have tried but very few succeed. However it’s up to the individual self to decide to do something or remain inactive.

  5. Today it’s my turn to be blocked by LT, they don’t want me to say what I think of Antonio.I have tried to rephrase but have failed, anyway you win blali Mingeli Palata

  6. “Africa’s education system produces white-collar bureaucrats who can’t perform, innovate, write, research, develop or produce”. That is over-generalization. It is simplistic to blame the education system without providing substantive arguments to prove the point. African doctors are performing wonders around the world. African professors are performing wonders around the world. African engineers are performing wonders around the world. African nurses are performing wonders around the world. African teachers are performing wonders around the world. If you do not any individual African currently working in the diasporas, then just so. Ignorance is not an excuse.

  7. South Africans are used to name calling when coming to their level y education, yet they are the most innovative in the continent. In South Africa we will say give the author a Bells (whiskey)

  8. He is very right. Zambia is number one. Every corner has someone with master etc but just have a simple conversation….schooled brains

  9. This is because we take social scientists very seriously in this country while under playing natural scientists. How can you give the same value to an agronomist r an engineer or a doctor with a lawyer or any one who has studied the humanities

    • The same Zambian engineers who have failed to invent anything? We have loadshedding and the so called engineers cant offer any solution other than the usual songs on things that have already been invented and have failed to be implemented e.g. solar, wind energy etc. As long as the natural scientists add no substance to the loadshedding problem, they will never be taken serious

    • @10.3 Peter Njovu,Yes all bcoz thieving lawyers and cikwakwas (Humanities grads) uncluding those who are barely able to read and write are in leadership and have put a stranglehold on ZESCO denying Engineers the chance to run the institution professionally.Our Engineers, Doctors..brief ,Scientists are very good but frustrated by hopeless non-logical and scientific minded leaders! The day this country will be led by a practical scientist be the time we will start developing properly NOT THESE TALKATIVE THIEVES FROM SCHOOLS DEBATES AND ASSUMPTIONS!!

    • Nosense sir. All fields are developmental fields. There is nothing like natural science is superior to humanities. We need construction workers just as we need musicians. After all entertainment and people in the humanities are doing much better from raw African perspective than those in science and Tech fields from raw African works.

    • Policy and legislation is the foundation of national development. For instance, if solar energy is not developed by our engineers, then the current solar energy development policy and legislation is not elaborate. If solar winter maize is not developed by our agronomists, then the current green maize development policy and legislation is not elaborate. If wind energy is not developed by our engineers, then the current wind energy development policy and legislation is not elaborate. The list is endless. That is why, after Indaba is closed, there is always need to establish national priorities and then to stick to their implementation.

  10. Please, do not overgeneralize. I believe Mwanza is talking about himself. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Zambia, but we do not see what that degree is doing for him. He has become a tool of PF. Research requires a lot o resources. The US government spends billion of dollars on research through various organizations. American companies equally spend colossal amounts of money on research. In fact, several Africans in the US have benefited from such funds. Does that happen in Africa?

  11. Maybe if this was coming from someone who has not been to school, it might be a good argument but this guy is an example of educated yet unprincipled and hungry cadre whose brain is the stomach. Surely there are some challenges with out education system but it is our job to keep investing and adapting it to fit our current challenges. If your government cannot invest in education and research, even basic paying salaries or providing water and electricity, how on earth can we even talk about innovation and development? It is like asking someone to cook nshima without mealie and water!…stop this petty cadre talk. It stinks!

    • We fail to pay salaries because our budgeting activities are not aligned with many things associated with smoothing running of the organization. No profession is irrelevant but it becomes irrelevant and unuseful if it fails to bring positive change to the institution. If we have more costs than income generated, we will continue staying months and months without being paid. May the people that complain not to be paid ask themselves what they’ve done to generate institutional funds? We need a modification in our School curriculum in order to include costing for your job. This will spur intraprenuers and entrepreneurs. Otherwise we will continue lamenting. May the Govornment also leave these so called Parastatal Companies operate freely in case they interfere. I feel very sorry for us that…

    • Antonio Mwanza why did you leave the opposition you were in? Politics of the Stomach. The Bembas say Sebana wikute. He knew there was nothing to eat in Opposition full stop. Now he is talking rubbish just to be in the media.

  12. Mr. Mwanza has done a unjustice to a serious subject. First the educational system followed in many African countries is western so there is no such thing as African education. Next innovation is to a large extent is determined by necessity and formal schooling has little to do with it. Henry Ford of the Ford Ranger fame was of few academic qualifications. Please blame societies at large and for once leave the educated alone.

  13. For any country to absorb college graduates it must have a thriving Product Design & Development sector. The product do not have to be machines or cars. They can include software, medicines etc. China and India strategy was to start by letting western companies come and set up factories while paying low wages. The trade off was that low wages were the sacrifice for getting production education. When people got the manufacturing education it included detail design standards needed to produce high quality products to meet high western standards. After that is was easy for local graduates to design new product because there were experienced workers to build the products. African leader tend to interfere too much in manufacturing businesses making it too risky unless you cheat. THE REST WILL…

  14. The truth is had to swallow but this chap is 100% right. You will never see Europeans bragging about their qualifications because common sense and experience prevails in most cases. We keep playing second fiddle to systems designed to disadvantage us. If someone says put your head in the microwave because everyone does it, you won’t do that without questioning. We have never questioned the microeconomic systems imposed on us with conditions and packaged with a democratic flavor. America and the UK are currently under a dictatorship but we still find excuses to glorify their systems and values even though they are designed to disadvantage the masses.We need to re-write our own destiny and history.

    • Education is the same everywhere. 2+2 in Zambia is the same im America. There is nothing like an education DESIGNED TO DISADVANTAGE YOU.

      Africans just lack in basic virtues like vision, hardwork, perseverance and inquisitive minds. Instead they substitute these for superstition, laziness, expectation of other people to do things for them and poor visions and lack of sincerity.

    • In England there is nothing like cikwakwas. The words comes from African Universities only. Mainly because of ‘ubututu’. Humanities and social sciences contains the needed eloquence, analytical and the science of critical thinking the basic hallmark found in Western Writers and Western Lawyers. There is no ‘cikwakwa’ subject there but only found in Africa. Humanities and Social Sciences solicits for IDEAS found in Natural Sciences. All formal learning is important for knowledge acquisition in a particular subject coupled by individual informal and unguided learning acquired from life and living to create wisdom. It is this wisdom that distinguishes for example individual good lawyers, teachers, Doctors, Engineers to bad ones respectively. Good writing from Mr Mwanza when he stated…

  15. Dear Zambian,

    While i agree with Mr Mwanza’s point of view. I have got a few reservations about this article. Mr Mwanza, should have further gone to show how govt has tried to create an enabling environment in the area of research and innovation. Let him give an example of any program in that area which amount to even 10% of FISP. If he cant let him shut up because this article can only be liked to ” Talk is Cheap”.

  16. This is what we should be hearing from politicians not the corruption [email protected] I read Miles Sampa’s passionate disapproval of the retention of VAT not GST and it inspires me to know that the young politicians are thinking like this. Out with the old and in with the new.

  17. We need a bold new vision for government and the country. Change in government takes bold leadership. Corruption has destroyed the economy. Corruption in Zambia has reached cancerous proportions.
    Borrowing is not the answer to our economic woes. You do not have to have a degree to understand that. It’s common sense.
    All those people in government, who have degrees, should be ashamed of themselves for they have failed to run the economy. A bunch of criminals and thieves is what we have. They all sit comfortable in their homes with food on their table while the poor continue to suffer.

  18. Political Corruption has a dramatic ripple effect on destroying the economy resulting in a failing economy and a weak state of governance. Corruption has a negative effect on both inequality and the provision of basic services and needs that affects the poor people and the country on the whole.
    Letting foreign companies in to tear up our land to extract and sell our minerals while making our people become poorer with each passing day is unforgivable.
    Laws should be tougher on foreigners buying our agricultural land.
    Laws should be tougher on any country or company who want to invest.

  19. Our land and mines must not be sold permanently, because the land belongs to our people and our children’s children. Selling our state-owned copper mines in Zambia was a big mistake.

    Selling our wild animals from its national parks is embarrassing. Our important economic activities such as tourism help to bring revenue into the country. It promotes cultural awareness and also helps to preserve local culture and traditions in the area. Our tourism industry business deserves the recognition, respect. Tourism plays a crucial role in the development and growth of our country and all those found to be poaching/trafficking our protected wildlife species must be caught with a matter of urgency. This is unacceptable and something must be done about this. Corruption is an issue which adversely…

  20. Corruption is an issue which adversely affects Zambia’s economy

    We should be rich, but our government has destroyed the economy. The country is getting poorer now, because of economic mismanagement and corruption.

  21. Leadership is about having a compelling vision and a comprehensive plan with talented people working together to put the vision into action.

    As for HH, you criticise him day and night and yet he seems to be a reasonable man with a genuine passion. Anyone who demonstrates a genuine passion to help those in in need has my vote.

    Hopefully when I return back soon I will arrange to meet HH and help him to campaign for presidency and if not HH then one day I will set up my own political party and it will certainly not have any recycled.

    Recycled politicians are a stumbling block to radical change.

  22. The country is too big for recycled politicians to run.

    It is high time that country allows each province to hold their own governmental jurisdiction and let the people decide who they want to run their province!

    It’s the only way

    Time for radical change!

  23. ‘ Like Mr Sata used to say, “We have Engineers who can’t even mend a pot hole, we have professors who can’t even write a book.” ‘

    Please add that we have politicians who can hardly think and end up writing such drivel. And this so called politician is a university graduate who has ended up jumping from one party to another like a monkey jumping from one tree to another in the musi otunya national park complete with grabbing goodies from ladies’ handbags.

    This describes Antonio Mwanza. He is a university graduate who has failed to use his education. He thought that education is simply obtaining a degree and he would be on his way to driving expensive SUVs and show other graduates that he is important. Otherwise what do you think he is in doing in politics? A lot of his fellow…

  24. ‘ Like Mr Sata used to say, “We have Engineers who can’t even mend a pot hole, we have professors who can’t even write a book.” ‘

    Please add that we have politicians who can hardly think and end up writing such drivel. And this so called politician is a university graduate who has ended up jumping from one party to another like a monkey jumping from one tree to another in the musi otunya national park complete with grabbing goodies from ladies’ handbags.

  25. This describes Antonio Mwanza. He is a university graduate who has failed to use his education. He thought that education is simply obtaining a degree and he would be on his way to driving expensive SUVs and show other graduates that he is important. Otherwise what do you think he is in doing in politics? A lot of his fellow graduates educated in Zambia and elsewhere have made themselves useful to their societies. Others just dont have the opportunity. Of course there are a few who have failed in society, like Antonio.
    Out of frustration Antonio thinks that all other graduates are equally use.les.s. No, Mr Antonio aspiring honourable, that is not correct. YOU ARE the cr.ap of the nation, that is all. Now imagine this particular cra.p became the president of any nation, what would you…

  26. what has this chap done to LT that all my comments are blocked? as from yesterday. You don’t want me to say what I think about him?

  27. The chap sometimes should learn to shut up. He has no authority to speak on this subject. Perhaps he talks of himself. What has he done with his education? Being a bootlicker of PF or mouth of a piece (himoompompo) of a corrupt system to just survive? Shame on him.

  28. Charity begins at home. What has Antonio done with his papers? What contribution has he made other than being a lap dog? The problem is not education and educated people. It is the leadership. The African leadership!! Listen to Prof Lumumba’s speeches and you will see why governments don’t want invited to give seminars in their countries. If you are educated and being blocked to perform because of bootlickers and Lapdogs like Antonio what options do you have? Antonio must start preaching in the PF they are in control. They them provide leadership like Mangufuli and the country will start turning. All politicians in Zambia promise development and all they give people is a piecemeal! Stop that and developing a working program independent of a president but driven by selfless leaders. Then…

  29. For the first time you have articulated issues well, we have educated people with papers but no brains to perform anything in their fields, we have dull professors who have never written a single textbook, only good talking nonsense, papers will not take you anywhere, you shall be judged by your work and deeds through actions not cheap talk.

  30. With this distance education and the mushrooming of the many private universities, every Jim and Jack has a masters.

  31. Lazy Antonio first find a real job not the stupid position you hold. Only then will you earn a right to comment on the successes and failures of educated people. True many educated people are failures and that includes you!!

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