Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) is concerned with the sharp increase in the fees for accommodation, examinations as well as the internet services. We note that accommodation fees have been increased from K1, 200 to K3, 900 which is a 300% increment. The examination fees have also been increased from K100 per year to K50 per course. Additionally, internet has been increased from K55 to K194 per year.
We are mindful also of the fact that the cost of doing business in any sector is actually increasing because we ourselves are also affected. However, our concern is that the increment of fees and services by 300% is too drastic. Fees should have been increased gradually and progressively.
The Coalition, is therefore, calling upon University of Zambia (UNZA) Management to revise the new fee structure so that it is attainable by the majority of students, especially those that are poor and vulnerable.
ZANEC is alive to the predicament that management at UNZA has in terms of managing the operations of the institution. This is more so given the fact that government ill funds the institution, and yet expects the university to operate at optimal capacity. We are also mindful that UNZA is peculiar amongst all other universities because it is the mother of universities in the country. This means that UNZA in the past enjoyed monopoly funding support from government. However, currently there are a number of public universities that have been created in the recent years. This means that government resource envelop has to be spread out amongst all the Institutions of Higher Learning in the country.
Furthermore, we are mindful that the financing towards Institutions of Higher Learning is very minimal in the education budget. In 2018 it is 17.1% and in 2017 it was only 13.7% of the entire education budget that was allocated to higher education. Therefore, the amount that goes into UNZA for example is not adequate to carter for salaries of lecturers, ensuring that electricity and water is paid for, among other things. Moreover, the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) has informed UNZA and Copperbelt University to seek alternative ways of financing. One immediate way for management to raise funds is to charge commercial fees.
We are further aware that in August (2017) about 8,000 students were owing the institution over K58 million unpaid fees. These students were not going to sit for exams or have access to university services. However, these students were allowed to write exams after a Presidential directive. It is in the same vein that we are appealing to UNZA Management to look into this matter because we know that a number of students will not be able to pay these fees. This might increase the number of students that will drop out of the Institution. This defeats the purpose of the seventh National Development Plan of “leaving no one behind.”
Grace M. Sinkamba
Issued on 28th of October, 2017