It is not in my nature to blow my own trumpet, but since I joined politics, I have learnt that I have to talk about myself, says President Edgar Lungu.

And Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo says government is working on a policy which will compel university alumni to give back to their training institutions.

Speaking during the University of Zambia (UNZA) Alumni gala dinner at Mulungushi International Conference Centre yesterday, President Lungu said “politics can teach you to depart from what your mother and father taught you”.

“Barclays Bank has supported us with the construction of what is today are referred to as the Levy Mwanawasa hostels. I hope we will have Edgar Chagwa Lungu hostels soon. Politics can teach you to depart from what your mothers and fathers taught you. It is not in my nature to blow my trumpet but since I joined politics I discovered that you have to talk about yourself,” President Lungu said.

“Much as it offends your rivals, I have also learnt never to call them the opposition just call them your rivals, your partners or whatever, but they are not the opposition anymore. They are just our friends on the other side. I think we should beat our drums if we have reason to do so.”

He thanked various partners for their efforts to improve UNZA.

“Apart from accommodation shortage, the university is also faced with inadequate teaching space and library infrastructure. I must also commend the government of the United States of America for funding the construction of the new Population Studies lecture theatre in 2015 and also pay tribute to the People’s Republic of China for the gift of the Confucius Institute building. I am also aware that in 2016, the government of the Republic of Ireland constructed the department of food science and agricultural sciences,” President Lungu said.

“The Japanese government has been a great partner in the advancement of the University of the University of Zambia too and those of us who were there during that time will recall, the school of Natural Sciences is a testimony of the warn relations between Zambia and Japan. In addition to all this support, the people of the Republic of Germany have also partnered with us to set up a special university centre, the School of Education.”

He promised that his administration would see to it that new hostels were constructed at UNZA.

“Today, the University of Zambia has a total of 12,000 students, the growth is commendable. What is not commendable is the standards. There is need for us to be concerned because now that the numbers are increasing, the standards are going down. There is need for us to fight to ensure that the numbers that is quantity and quality correspond. I am glad that president [Levy] Mwanawasa did something for the University of Zambia because he is a product of the University of Zambia. Similarly, I will do something about it because I am a product of the University of Zambia,” said President Lungu.

“I know that president [Kenneth] Kaunda did something about the university because he had no choice, he needed graduates.
I am so happy that we have honoured our promise to create 4650 bed spaces at the main campus but I think this is a drop in the ocean. We think we can do more. Therefore, we will build more hostels even at the School of Medicine in the near future and what we can do for the main campus.”

President Lungu also reiterated that government would not hesitate to amend policies which proved to be problematic in managing the education sector as it was not an act of inconsistency, but smart progression.

He also donated K1 million towards UNZA operations.
The UNZA Alumni gifted him a year book containing names of everyone who has passed through the institution since it was established.

And Prof Luo said government was working on a policy which would compel people to pay back to their training institutions.

“University education is not financed 100 per cent by government…I want to say to all of us here that the best investment you can ever make in your life is education. I want to announce this evening that this is not a one off event. My ministry has been going through reforms, the alimni is going to be a policy that all of us should start contributing to the institutions where we have been. So those of you who may not be from the University of Zambia but were from Copperbelt University or elsewhere will be in our database and you will have to give back,” said Prof Luo.