SOCIALIST Party member of the central committee Faston Mwale says the UPND has no ideological framework by which and within which it can build and actualise the concept of free education.
Mwale said making a promise when one has no intention of fulfilling it amounts to deception.
He said deception, cutting corners or perverting the truth to take advantage of the oppressed masses who were genuinely seeking a way out of a predicament was moral depravity.
“Ruthless competition for political space compounded by a ferocious greed for state power drives some aspirants to feats of lies and deception. But building a political stature anchored on propagation of falsehood and distortion has obvious consequences,” Mwale said. “One of the common subjects of conversation doing rounds today in our social and political circles is the UPND’s straight promise for free education. No doubt, the rare promise of free education from grade one to tertiary level generated a lot of enthusiasm in the youth, the majority of whom have been excluded from education processes at various levels due to non-payment of fees. On the strength of the promise for free quality education, the youth rose in record numbers to deal with the Patriotic Front at the polls which was averse to the educational needs of our youth.”
He said today the UPND was in power, as a result.
“But listen to their language on free education. What was spoken openly, directly and with much vigor is today being spoken in twisted tongues and in subdued tones. Desperate attempts to assuage the simmering rage, frustration and anger through euphemistic language must be well contextualised. We ought to understand that the UPND will renege on most of its promises, not just on education.”
He said by pointing out that the UPND would back off on most of its promises, he was in no way trying to play the role of a doomster.
“The truth is that the UPND has no ideological framework by which and within which it could build and actualise the concept of free education. We must, by all means necessary, disabuse ourselves of the notion that a possibility of free education does not exist. It does. Many a time, advocates of a commodified system of education advance the notion that there is no money to finance free education. This is an absurd notion that must be repudiated,” Mwale said. “In a class ridden society such as ours, education has an ideological slant. In a neo-liberal economic order, education is for the privileged class, period. Those from the marginalised working-class families have to endure daily the temerities of an education system that is driven by the whims of the market.”
He said the threat in August 2017, by the University of Zambia management to block 8,000 students who owed the institution K58 million in unpaid tuition fees from sitting for examinations if they failed to pay was testament to the harsh reality of an education system that is connected to the market logic.
“In the present circumstances, I know not of any neo-liberal economy in Africa that is providing free access to education. Since 1991, when Zambia fell under the clutches of a neo-liberal economic order proper, educating a child from grade one to tertiary level has been a real nightmare of one’s life. To see a child being excluded from school on account of failing to settle fees is enough to send one into a serious psychological stress,” Mwale said. “I deem it proper that we need to understand the fact that the UPND is ideologically pro-capitalist. This ideological position is what informs policy direction. We ought to note that free education liberates the poor. Capitalism does not provide free education precisely because the poor will be liberated. Therefore, the concept of free education under capitalism is a direct contradiction. So, those relishing the idea of free education under the leadership of the UPND are living in phantasmagoria. Unless and until we understand the dynamics of a capitalist system and indeed understand how we are connected to the global capitalist order we will always be victims of deception in deceptive politics.”
He said a more rounded society that was less ugly and more just was possible under a socialised economic order.
“Let us keep at the front of our minds the fact that the development of a country today does not lie in the size of its population, nor on its geographical size nor on the mineral deposits buried underground, nay. The development of countries today is dictated by the brain power of its citizens. In this respect, developing a country’s social capital becomes a significant imperative,” said Mwale. “Therefore, providing access to free quality education is an inescapable duty of every caring government. For more perspectives on the subject of free education, please turn to page 19 of the Socialist Party Manifesto and inform yourself more. The concept of free education must be defended to its hilt.”