It’s sad that 8,000 UNZA students can’t write exams over fees, says Mbukusita-Lewanika

INONGE Mbikusita-Lewanika says it is sad that over 8,000 UNZA students have not managed to clear outstanding tuition fees to sit their examinations.


Speaking on Radio Phoenix’s Let the people talk programme yesterday, Mbikusita-Lewanika, former Zambia’s Ambassador to the Unites States, said it was unfortunate that Zambia “blew out” its financial resources some decades ago.


According to a memo dated July 24 from UNZA management, all students from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences with unpaid fees would not be allowed to write final examinations if they do not clear their outstanding balances or fees.


“Students are hereby urged to settle their outstanding bills by August 14, 2017 to avoid missing examinations and ultimately being excluded from the university,” read the memo in part.


In reaction, Mbikusita-Lewanika said the problem at UNZA was created by the government.


“It’s very sad to have 8,000 students not sit exams because they haven’t paid. But the problem comes back to us as a government and as a people; you know, in 1964 we had so much money! We offered free education – so free without really thinking. There are some parents who could [pay] but we paid for everybody to the extent of giving free books, free pencils, free erasers. So, we blew out our money without thinking carefully. When the University of Zambia opened, they (students) were having eggs, bacon and sausages for free and even going to call their relatives to go and eat! You give free dormitories even to those who can afford, even those who live in Lusaka,” Mbikusita-Lewanika said.


“So, we overspent our money without a plan of recovery from those who can afford. Other countries have school loans but for us we gave out so much money that we are now broke. The other mistake we made is not to allow the university to generate its own income from publishing, from research. In America and other places, every university has their own teaching hospital…”


She said it was sad that standards of Zambia’s education were falling.


“It makes me sad…. Maybe I can start with my generation; for us, teaching and education was a calling and then you get trained for it. So, most of the time when we were working and teaching, we were not even thinking of the salary [but] we were thinking about the pupil. Our interest was so intense that you had to know the child (pupil) the parents – we used to visit the parents so that we know what the children are going through. If they had a funeral or any hardship, you know so that when you are dealing with child, you know what the child is going through,” Mbikusita-Lewanika said.


She lamented that it was unfortunate that some teachers were now going into teaching just to get a salary.


“They’re not interested in teaching and not interested in children! That is a disaster! When you teach, you pick up from where the parents left and you add to the transformation of the child. The other sad thing is that most of the teachers are not really role models by their speech, conduct and by their dress. In our days, we were also role models for the children to admire and say when ‘I grow up, I want to be like that’. They would also imitate how you talk, how you treat people. We also used to report to work on time,” explained Mbikusita-Lewanika.


“My first job in Zambia was at Evelyn Hone College [department] of education; we were supposed to start lessons at 08:00 hours but before 08:00 hours, we were already in the office. So, I think the quality of education has gone down. The other aspect is that there are too many children in the classrooms. I live in Mongu right now [and] some classes have got 100 children and they stand or sit on the floor [during lessons]. There is no way a teacher can teach a 100 children classroom!”

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