CTPD executive director Isaac Mwaipopo called on President Edgar Lungu to urgently consider reopening the CBU without any further delays.
“As the Centre, we are disheartened to note that the Copperbelt University has been closed for close to three months now. At the time of the closure, the reason that was given for the closure had to do with a students’ protest that had taken place prior to the closure,” Mwaipopo said.
He noted that Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo informed the nation at the time that she had been forced to close the University because of the destructive behavior of the students that she was going to reopen the institution after proper security features which could detect their activities were put up.
Mwaipopo stated that the silence over the closure of the CBU and the “business as usual” attitude exhibited so far was not healthy for a country in so much need of development as Zambia.
“What we know is that all progressive societies around the world have taken investments in the education sector as a panacea for sustainable economic development and poverty reduction. Sadly in Zambia, we seem to be viewing education as a cost. The investments in the education sector have continued to go down over the years. Over the years the country’s overall allocation to this very important sector has been going down. For example, in 2015 the total budgetary allocation was 20.2 %, in 2016 it was 17.2%, 2017 it was 16.5%. 2018 it came down to 16.1% and now in 2019 a total of 13.3 billion kwacha was allocated to the education sector translating to 15.3% of the total national budget,” he stated. “This is a clear drop when one considers where we are coming from and the numerous challenges the sector is grappling with.”
Mwaipopo stated that CTPD was still of the view that much more resources needed to be allocated to the sector given its numerous challenges and importance to national development.
He has further said infrastructure in most of the country’s higher institutions of learning remained dilapidated and below the expected standards.
“…lecturers in these institutions are also very demotivated (CBU and UNZA to be specific) as they are owed huge amounts of money in arrears,” Mwaipopo stated.
He added that it had now become a common phenomenon to hear of lecturers and other workers at the two universities getting paid very late.
“…this situation hinders academic progress and research on the part of the lecturers. In extreme circumstances, it has led to disruption of learning process due to boycotts by our lecturers. In the whole circus the students bear the consequence of such actions. The money owed to the two universities is also quite huge. The for UNZA alone, it is estimated that employees and retirees are owed close to K600 million in unpaid gratuities. In addition, the University is in serious debt which amounts close to K2.5 billion. This situation is not healthy for the nation. It has a potential to retard development and reverse all the little gains we have achieved over the years,” stated Mwaipopo.