PF member Kelvin Fube Bwalya says has disagreed with the government’s move to scrape meal allowances for UNZA and CBU students saying any serious government can afford to pay for all deserving students.
The Zambian government has abolished paying meal allowances to students at University of Zambia and Copperbelt University and has instead included sponsorship to other higher learning institutions in the country.
The Ministry of High Education recently announced that the move only affects first years and not returning students.
Last year, higher education minister Professor Nkandu Luo said starting this year the government would abolish meal allowances so that it concentrates on other issues because the issue of meal allowances “can drives us grazy”.
She said parents should take the responsibility of taking care of their children in school.
However, many have condemned the government move said it would seriously impact majority students from underprivileged and poor households.
Others have said the government decision was illegal as only the National Assembly had power to repeal any provision of the student loan scheme.
Posting on his Facebook page, Fube, popularly known as KBF, said he does not agree with the government’s move to scrape meal allowances.
“Because I know any serious government can afford to pay for all deserving students. I have discussed the issue on how we can sponsor all school leavers perusing tertiary education in my soon to be released book, Zambia Must Prosper – part 2,” Fube said.
“Believe it or not, four million decently employed youths contributing K100 every month for one year specifically to tertiary education is equivalent to US$480 million every year! To sponsor all Grade Twelve leavers to pursue tertiary education at university level will roughly cost US$350 million annually. This covers tuition, lodging and meals! Meaning our starting point should be quality employment for our youths. Do you still want to tell me there is no way we can sponsor all Grade 12 leavers for college? Zambia, let’s get our youths to work.”
Fube said there were two fundamental misconceptions Zambian politicians held with regards youths.
He said politicians held that the millions of unemployed youths were a burden as opposed to an asset.
“Secondly, that education is a cost rather than an investment. In realising the strategic importance of our young people, I have resolved to place particular focus on young people below 36 years. I particularly aim at ensuring every youth in Zambia is either in school gaining quality training or has decent employment contributing to the wealth of this nation,” said Fube. “I have resolved to pursue an agenda I am calling: ‘Ever y youth in school or at work’.”
Meanwhile, Prof Luo says vulnerable students were not only at UNZA and CBU.
Prof Luo said she was not bothered by the criticism because the story would die out.
According to a statement by Bangwe Naviley, the first secretary press at the Zambian Mission in New Delhi, Prof Luo said this when she was hosted for dinner at the residence of the High Commissioner to India, Judith Kapijimpanga.
“Institutions such as Mulungushi, Kwame Nkrumah and others equally have vulnerable students who should be treated equally,” she added.
“The coming on board of more universities should see equality in the running of the institutions of higher learning.”
Prof Luo said leaders should always find a way of doing things in a correct manner even in the wake of criticism.
Meanwhile, Prof Luo said she was amazed at how India had developed in science and technology.
“I will move with speed in acting on all pending reports from the Zambian Mission in India to ensure that workable proposals are executed expeditiously,” said Prof Luo.
And High Commissioner Kapijimpanga said there was growing interest among Indians who want to work with Zambia in the area of science and technology.
“The Mission has gone flat out encouraging institutions of higher learning in India to look to Zambia for partnership,” said High Commissioner Kapijimpanga.
Prof Luo was in India to speak at an Educational Research and Development Summit in Hyderabad.