The Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) is saddened by the decision taken by the University of Zambia (UNZA) Management to expel seven students believed to have incited their colleagues to riot over the institution’s decision to bar students who had not paid their fees in full from writing examinations on 17th November, 2020. We, would like to sincerely appeal to UNZA Management to withdraw its harsh decision and give all the students the chance to complete their tertiary education. As ZANEC we do not support riotous behavior by students. Instead, we support academic freedoms that are anchored on mutual respect and dialogue between students and university management. We are however, concerned that UNZA management is averse to dialogue and usually prefers taking punitive measures against students even on matters that can be resolved around the table. Expelling students should always be the last resort and not the primary punishment for our students.
The action by UNZA is against our belief of not leaving anyone behind in the delivery of tertiary education as espoused in the 7th National Development Plan. As a research institution endowed with a lot of research knowledge, UNZA knows very well that expelling students is not a remedy to the riotous behavior of students at the institution. As a result of economic impact of the COVID 19, most parents are struggling to raise money to pay fees for their children. It is common knowledge that most employees have lost jobs due to the economic challenges that have come as a result of COVID 19. Therefore, the decision that was made by UNZA Management to stop students from writing exams because they had not paid exam fees in full was very harsh and unfair. We are therefore, requesting UNZA to immediately re-instate the students who were expelled as a way of guaranteeing their academic freedom. ZANEC would also like to re-iterate the call for the Disaster Management Unit to release a bailout package for all University students who have failed to pay their fees as was done to musicians.