Party of National Unity (PNU) president Highvie Hamududu has questioned government’s true motives for restructuring the University of Zambia into five colleges.
Last week, Chief Government Spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga announced that the University of Zambia would be reconstituted into five university colleges.
“Cabinet approved the restructuring of the University of Zambia to be reconstituted into five University of Zambia colleges namely: College of Medicine; College of Education; College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine; College of Engineering, Mines, and Minerals; and College of Humanities and Arts. Government has decided to restructure the University of Zambia in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the operations of the institution. This action is provided for under the Higher education act number 4 of 2013 (iii) section 13,” said Kampamba.
But in an interview with News Diggers! Hamududu said Cabinet was making too many pronouncements without consultations.
“My main concern on that Cabinet approval is that there should be wider consultation even when they are good ideas, there should be a buy-in before these things are announced. Am neither for or against but what am saying is that we haven’t read the real reasons behind. And I hope that segmenting that university into those colleges will not create serious overheads,” Hamududu said.
“The management has not been explained, are we going to have different management restructures for each of these? Those things must be understood because what is sucking money in this university is the super structure. We need a new super structure in the management of the university. So the money goes to the actual service provision, it goes to paying the lecturers, it goes to providing for materials, it goes in those libraries and also it goes to augment the pool of students loan.”
He observed that a number of pronouncements were taking Zambians by surprise.
“So for me there have been many pronouncements from Cabinet but there must be a very strong stakeholders consultation. Most of the pronouncements are taking Zambians by surprise. Sometimes even the good intentions will be misunderstood because there has been no buy-in. People have not been walked through, are there any reasons behind some of those big pronouncements? So the real reasons are not yet clear, the management structure is not yet clear on how these colleges will be run. And I hope it won’t be an issue of increasing an overhead cost which are eating into the key issues that must be addressed at the university,” Hamududu said.
“Right now at the University of Zambia, the debt that the university has on the retirees is huge and some of the people have died without getting their benefits, it’s very sad. That must be done, it’s a question of human rights. And secondly the University of Zambia has remained very backward in terms of rolling out infrastructure. We have not seen any infrastructure at the University of Zambia being rolled out. The university and the government has failed to put up hostels there, students are being exploited in boarding houses around the university. Especially for the girl child, they are undergoing serious abuse and it’s not secure for them. It is within the reach of government to put up hostels and there is enough land within the university.”
Hamududu also urged government to provide enough resources for student loans so that the poor could also borrow for their education and pay back later.
“We need a huge students’ loan so that all the students who cannot afford can borrow money for their education. Just at the end of last month you saw a number of students that were chased from writing exams! This is a poor country, people have no recourse, they don’t have money, it is as simple as that. Government must provide a huge resource for students loans so that those who are poor, who cannot afford can borrow money and when they get jobs they will pay back,” he said.
“That is what is happening everywhere. You have seen in South Africa now the issue of student’s loan is a very serious issue. You have seen riots, you have seen strikes universities in South Africa, that education is a right. It is becoming a new debate, in Kenya it’s now a hot issue and its coming to the all of Africa. Because Africa has got what we call a very young population and issues of youth explosion has become a serious issue. And one of the demands of a youthful population in Africa is the provision of education and therefore we must put in enough money in education.”
Hamududu further advised government to put up modern infrastructure at the University of Zambia.
“From the time this university was built, I can tell you that, from the Kaunda’s era, no administration has put up anything sensible there, nothing. So the University of Zambia has a huge backlog in infrastructure, a huge backlog in terms of streamlining cost, a huge backlog in terms of availing adequate student’s loan. That is why we all went to the university from very poor families, and today we are big people in Lusaka. It’s because of the bursaries that we were given, we learnt for free and we were given bursaries, those bursaries we are supposed to pay back and it is up to the university to follow up students who went through there, all of us to pay back, and we are able to pay back if they put mechanisms to recover money to benefit other students,” said Hamududu.