A University of Zambia Lecturer has called for the privatization of the institution.
Dr Sam Phiri, a Lecturer in the School of Mass Communication says what was Zambia’s icon of independence and the source of vanity in 1966, is no more.
Dr Phiri says what remains is a drowsy institute which is in deep peripatetic torpor.
“Blotto in poverty, misery and self-pity. It’s a drab, dozy and blue ‘Centre of in-excellence’. We all know why this is so. Blame games won’t wash,” he lamented.
He charged that this mortally sick Centre of “Service and Excellence” is in its near-death thralls.
“It’s not ‘serving’ our country well. No ‘excellence’ in teaching; not much, not much… research takes place there either. We all know why this is so.”
Dr Phiri charged that the truth is, government cannot fully fund this bovine-like behemoth.
“There is no money for UNZA. Worse, for the baby public ‘universities’ statutorily created since 2011. Let’s be realistic.”
He suggested that the solution is in changing the political policy direction of UNZA.
“UNZA can be privatized. UNZA should be reformed, restructured and remodeled so that its aligned to the 21st Century,” he suggested.
He said every other facile attempt will not work.
“What is needed is not a mollifying exercise. What is needed is the radical transformation of UNZA. As it is, UNZA is a ‘stranger’ to the 21st Century.”
“Trying to tinker with funding models that suited the 1960s is a non-solution. It has merely concretized existing problems. This is not 1966. Zambia is poorer than it was in 1966. In fact, let’s just say it: Zambia is ‘broke’. It can’t afford to fund UNZA. Full Stop.”
“Worse, the many new public mini-universities, planted all over the place, un-thinkingly, un-planned and un-strategically. There is no conceivable academic logic to these new edifying mini-stars.”
“For a start, let’s re-examine the policy of mass education. Let’s re-look at the current policy’s denial of elitism for UNZA. This, in spite of an environment which is awash with mini-stars calling themselves universities. Many of them, hyped high schools but with a glorified legal status.”
He said, “Let UNZA be transmuted back into a Centre of Zambian Excellence in both teaching and research. Of course, excellence is directly linked to exclusivity, exceptionality, selectivity, distinctiveness and uniqueness.”
“After Zambia has taken the new policy stance, then let’s look at the Mulungushi University model. Is there anything we can learn from there?”
“If not, let’s seek for another model that will, at least, de-link and distance UNZA from government.”
“Look at this: Three weeks into the 2020 academic year, barely any lessons are taking place. Students, most of them teens, from the rurals, are milling about the unkempt and over grown campus grounds, and potholed roads. Momentarily, they listlessly peep through closed translucent doors into the decrepit lecture theatres. Wondering what could have been.”
“Today, I walked through the UNZA main campus, bemused and saddened to see that hardly any teaching was taking place. Three weeks into the new academic year, several lecture rooms were closed. The doors are shut.”
Why? No one knows, and yet everyone knows. No need to belabour the point. UNZA management has no sparring partner. No one to talk to. They de-recognised UNZALARU recently. Meanwhile, the institutional haste to the nethermost continues.”
“Should we seriously consider privatization? Of course, though not the Chiluba way,” he stated.