It is very shocking and annoying to hear that the University of Zambia has barred thousands of students from writing their examinations because they have not paid 100% fees. What is more shocking is to see the Vice Chancellor himself taking a leading role in telling the students off that the institution cannot listen to their stories about failure to settle their fees in full and that they should be allowed to write the exams. The video of him unapologetically telling students that they have to pay fees in full to write exams is still making rounds on social media today.
And sadly, the Minister of Higher Education seems to be in his own world such that he decided to wash his hands on this matter and folded his arms without taking interest to find a way of intervening considering that everything happening in the country right now points to the fact that every sector of the economy has been terribly affected by COVID-19. There is an audio of him responding to questions from a journalist who wanted to know what the government was going to do to help the students at UNZA. His response was that UNZA will sort it. Are you sure Honourable Dr Brian Mushimba? We recall just last year, Dr Mushimba issued a statement to the effect that students must not be stopped from writing exams on account of owing UNZA, but that the institution must instead withhold results for such students. What has changed today?
Is the minister not aware that all govt interventions currently point to easing the negative impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on businesses and households? As we speak, Zambia, as a country, is still negotiating for breathing space with its creditors. Why? Because the situation right now is tight economically. If Zambia, as a country, can find itself in this situation, how about the households at individual level?
Why is it so hard for Ministry of Higher education and UNZA to extend the same sort of “relief” to students? Any reasonable person would be very lenient with the students, knowing that their parents and guardians are going through a tough time.
It is careless for UNZA and Ministry of Higher Education to deliberately create room for politicians to find their way to UNZA to cause trouble! The buck stops at the Minister, not UNZA. He cannot be arrogant about it, neither should he abdicate his responsibility to UNZA.