Higher Education Minister Professor Nkandu Luo says students at the Copperbelt University wanted the institution to be closed, so she granted them their wish.
And Prof Luo Luo says she will announce the opening of the University in due course after security measures are put in place.
Meanwhile Prof Luo Luo says she is looking for an invisible hand that is causing confusion at the university warning that she will deal with it.
Delivering a Ministerial statement in parliament, Thursday, Pro Luo gave a background of events leading to the closure of the Copperbelt University.
“There was a group of students that failed their continuous assessment and demanded that despite failing their CA’s they be allowed to write the examinations. This, Mr speaker, is against the University Senate’s regulations that stipulates that the students had to have obtained 50 percent Pass of their CA before they write exams. In the week preceding the riots Copperbelt management had engaged the students leadership and informed them that the decision related to CA and exams was a preserve of the senate to which students are represented and are party to, as such any decision to address the demands could only be reversed and be considered by Senate,” Luo said.
“The students were further informed that the provision is a standard procedure for all the universities all over the world and reversing it would compromise the quality of education and lower the status of the University. Further, Mr Speaker, the vice-chancellor had met students leaders prior to the protests to explain the importance of writing exams and following Universities regulations. This was after receiving information that the students had called for a class boycott and put in place a black Monday protest where they would all dress in black. These students actually attempted to sit for exams after discussions with the Vice Chancellor but upon being informed of the outcome of the discussion with the University management, they blocked entry to exam rooms. After some commotion, the students leadership called for a meeting in the multipurpose hall where the bulk of the examinations were taking place, thereby disrupting the whole examination set up. Soon after wards they gathered at the monk square where they later decided to trek to Jumbo drive and riot.”
Prof Luo said when she visited the University in April, the students ran amok and chanted that the University should be closed.
“On the 4th of April I visited the University to assess the situation on campus in the company of senior management, security wings and senior staff from my ministry. During my visit to the University, the students continued exhibited unruly behaviour and shouted that they wanted the University closed, I also had an opportunity to see the extensive damage to the university property. Following consultation to the university I held consultations with the security wings who advised that should the University continue to be open it was a risk to the public, infrastructure and private property and a possible loss of life. This left the government, Mr Speaker, with no option but to close the University on the 5th of April 2109,” she explained.
“In fact, Mr Speaker, when I last went to the University, the students asked me to close the university, so I gave them the pleasure. They wanted me to close it, I closed it. Mr Speaker, it is clear that apart from the invisible hand, the riots are exacerbated by the lack of adequate security in our public institutions and in this case the CBU campus. This is evident by the porous in nature of our CBU grounds including student hostels, lecture theatres and other places within the university. It has been noted by ourselves that during riots, these places are accessible to both students and outsiders and this poses a danger to both the students, outsiders and University property.”
Leader of the Opposition in the House, Jack Mwimbu asked what measures the government were putting in place to finance the University but Luo said the closure of CBU was caused by the students.
Kabompo Member of Parliament Ambrose Lufuma noted that the closure of institutions had become a norm, to which Prof Luo said there was an invisible hand influencing riots in public universities.