Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo says she was enjoying the insults from students when she announced that the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University would not be reopened.

And Professor Luo has announced that her Ministry has granted loans and scholarships to students across the country for the academic year 2017/2018.

At a media briefing on Tuesday, Prof Luo observed that the higher learning institutions had the wrong crew of students because they prided in insulting elders.

“After I had given the results that had been presented to us by the Ministry of Health [that] we will not open UNZA and CBU, and I think a lot of you are on social media, you saw the amount of insults that I was receiving from the students. But let me take this opportunity to say that I was enjoying those insults. As a former scholar myself, in various Universities of the world, you cannot find not even two or three students posting insults. Because a University as I keep saying, is where you find the intelligentsia of the country. And the behaviour of an intelligentsia is very different from anybody else. So if we have a team of men and women, girls and boys in our institutions who are priding in insulting, and for that matter insulting elders, some of them are fit to be my children, then we have the wrong crew in our institutions of higher learning,” she complained.

“I have said to the managers that we need to revisit our approach to training. Either the people we are admitting in our institutions are not fit to be in our institutions or we are not giving the right training to our students. The lecturers in the university should spend time to interact with students and teach them about good manners. But for me why I’m saying I enjoyed [the insults], if anybody calls me stupid I will enjoy it because professor Luo will never be stupid. Professor Luo is a professor and to be a professor you can never fall in the bracket of the stupid or the foolish, never. If somebody says ‘She’s foolish’ I just laugh because I never fall in that bracket. So calling me foolish doesn’t change me because I will never be foolish.”

And Prof Luo said that reopening of higher learning institutions was a prerogative of the Ministry of Health.

“The function of inspecting whether an institution should be opened is the function of the Ministry of Health. Yesterday we were discussing with Dr [Chitalu] Chilufya, the Minister of Health that they have done the inspections for the Copperbelt University, Mulungushi University, Kwame Nkhuruma, and they are doing [ inspections for] the University of Zambia this week,” she said.

Prof Luo maintained her stance on banning of squatting.

“I want to talk about squatting because the other thing that upset them [students] was the issue of squatting. The University of Zambia and Copperbelt university has 2,150 bed spaces. Let’s say for argument sake, they were charging students K2 per month. It means the University will only collect K4,300 per month. But the students who are squatting are paying to their fellow students who are also just beneficiaries and they pay them let’s say K2 to their fellow students. So the six students that have been taken in as squatters multiply by K2, 160, it means that these students are paying K6, 900 to their fellow students. And this is property of the University and the property of government where people who do not own, they did not contribute a cent to the construction of that university are making K6, 900,” she said.

“If you are honest with yourselves, it means we are starting to train our students for four years to be taking money that doesn’t belong to them. And this is why when we get into offices we don’t feel bad to take money that belongs to that office. So we have to stop it in our institutions. I do appreciate that we don’t have enough bed spaces and that’s why we are working round the clock as the Ministry to provide extra bed space to our students. But I will not encourage them to be getting money for the property that doesn’t belong to them.”

Meanwhile Prof Luo announced that her Ministry had awarded 4,612 bursaries to first year students across the 24 TEVET institutions in the country.

“In this regard, through the Department of Vocational Education Training (DVET), the Ministry of Higher Education has awarded 4,612 bursaries to first year students in the 2018 academic year across the 24 TEVET institutions in the country. The total TEVET bursaries 4,612 awarded in 2018, 1,447 for female students representing 31 percent of the total and 3,165 for male students representing 69 percent. The TEVET bursary award distribution gives a representation of 64 percent to the urban institutions and the rural institutions represent 36 percent. Government will continue awarding more TEVET bursaries to the rural students to ensure more skills development and poverty reduction,” Prof Luo said.

She further said that the Ministry had offered 1,710 scholarships to students in five collages to cover technology, science and engineering related programmes, adding that 2,172 loans had been awarded to first year students at the University of Zambia and 2,890 loans at the Copperbelt University.