Zambia National Educational Coalition (ZANEC) is concerned with the prevailing situation at the public universities, namely the Copperbelt University (CBU) and University of Zambia (UNZA). The Minister of Higher Education is on record to have provided government’s position on the delayed payment of lectures’ salaries. The Coalition is aware that salaries are a recurrent expenditure that requires adequate administrative and financial planning in order to avoid work stoppage emanating from failure by government to pay salaries.
ZANEC is concerned with the Minister’s remarks which called on the Lecturers at UNZA to resign if they were not happy with the delayed payment of salaries. The Minister’s position does not provide opportunity for dialogue on solutions to the root causes of the critical financial challenges the sub-sector is facing. We therefore call upon the Minister to be open to dialogue with key stakeholders affected including the management, lecturers and the students as opposed to issuing ultimatums. As a Coalition, ZANEC believes that dialogue is key to strengthening partnerships and fostering joint efforts in addressing the myriad of challenges that the institutions of higher learning are facing so that the goals set in the Education and Skills Sector Plans (ESSP) are achieved.
Furthermore, ZANEC is also concerned about the 500 students who have been denied access to learning at CBU as a result of failing to pay tuition and related fees. This sad turn of events justifies ZANEC’s constant advocacy for increased financing to the sector. ZANEC is of the view that government and the management in Institutions of Higher Learning should not see enrolment as a revenue generation venture, but rather to increase access to tertiary education for all. As such, we call upon the Ministry of Finance and other institutions collecting loan repayments on behalf of the Loans and Scholarship Board to ensure the timeous remission of all the recoveries to the Loans and Scholarship Board to allow for the increased number of students who accessing the loans.
Our recommendation is that the loan scheme should be accessible by all students that are accepted to enroll in institutions of higher learning and that the students should decide what type of loan they want to take since they will have to pay it back. As a Coalition, we are of the view that loans taken out by each prospective student should be based on the capabilities and need of the student as opposed to a blanket loan figure. The Coalition is calling for prospective students to be allowed to take out 100%, 75%, 50% or 30% as they wish since they will pay back anyway. Student Loans should therefore be based on the individual needs which may include meal allowances for those who need them.
Further to this we call on the government to increase financing to the Education and Skills Sector to at least 22% in the 2020 national budget in order to allow for the effective and efficient management of the sector.