Govt hasn’t failed to manage public universities, claims Mushimba

HIGHER Education Minister Dr Brian Mushimba says institutions of higher learning should grow their own revenue streams through their assets.

Speaking in Parliament, Thursday, leader of the Opposition in Parliament Jack Mwiimbu said government had failed to manage public learning institutions and asked Dr Mushimba if the downing of tools by UNZA lecturers would not impact the quality of staff.

But in his response, Dr Mushimba said public leaning institutions should weigh between their expenses and the revenues that they get, urging them to grow their incomes.

He insisted that government had not failed to support higher learning institutions.

“The government has not failed to support our universities. Our universities have been receiving funding from government from time immemorial. Our government has also continued to encourage the universities to grow their revenue streams. Many of them have a lot of assets that could be turned into good revenues for themselves. Our government has also been encouraging the universities to look through their balance sheet to see their operation expenses, the allowances, their salaries and all other emoluments versus the revenues that come in,” Dr Mushimba said.

“The challenge some of the institutions of higher learning face, Mr Speaker, is the failure to balance the two sides. One side of the revenues that they get, including funding government gives them; the other side is their expenses, which government doesn’t control because government doesn’t employ on their behalf. Government doesn’t sign any contract on their behalf, government doesn’t participate in their negotiations in terms of salaries, allowances and many other things. That failure to balance the two sides is what we have seen as a challenge and we are helping them to walk through this journey.”

And Dr Mushimba said vocational institutions were not impacted by the lecturers’ strike because government obtained lecturers from other universities.

“Not too long ago, government sat with them and created a three-year strategic plan to help them get rid of all the additional debts that they had accumulated. To-date, government has been paying on that three-year plan; we are in year number three. So, the notion that government is not supporting the higher learning institutions is not true. But to answer the question on whether our vocational institutions are impacted; we are getting the lecturers from our universities; we get from other universities; we get from the region and we, currently, have all the required lecturers teaching in our vocational institutions,” he replied.

Meanwhile, Dr Mushimba said his Ministry had spent over K90 million on supporting students on bursaries.

“The Ministry of Higher Education has been providing bursaries in various skill areas to students that have been applying at our vocational institutions. Through the provision of these bursaries, the Ministry has been able to promote the participation of learners from rural areas as well as those from underprivileged backgrounds and promoted inclusive skills acquisition by youths lacking financial capacity. The fund has spent over K90 million on these bursaries. Last year alone, 6,140 applicants were awarded bursaries. In fact, 100 per cent of all the applicants to our vocational institutions were awarded bursaries using this fund,” said Dr Mushimba.

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