Tag: university of zambia

Statement of the Socialist Party on the disturbances at The University of Zambia

Statement of the Socialist Party on the disturbances at The University of Zambia Featured

The situation at The University of Zambia is very, very unfortunate and could have been avoided.

To expect students to pay 100 per cent of their tuition fees before they can be allowed to sit for examinations is unreasonable and unacceptable under COVID-19 financial and economic difficulties the great majority of our people are enduring.

And even without COVID-19 challenges, the great majority of our people are very poor to afford fees for the education of their children. How can our people in Western, Luapula and Northern provinces where the poverty levels are 82.2 per cent, 81.1 per cent and 79.7 per cent respectively afford such high tuition fees? Rural poverty is today 76.6 per cent. How can one really reasonably expect these people to pay such fees? Education should be treated as a right, not a privilege.

Today 66 per cent of our country’s population comprises of young people below the age of 25. People in this age group are supposed to be in nursery, primary school, secondary school, college or university. What are the national budgetary implications of this? Not less 25 per cent of our national budget should be allocated and disbursed to education. Failure to that we will many of our people not attending school, college or university as is the case today. And when this happens you have all sorts of challenges we are having with young people today. Under the Education 2030 Framework, Zambia committed to allocate at least 20 per cent of its budget to the education sector. However, under this government this has consistently declined from 20.2 per cent in 2015 to 12.4 per cent in 2020 and further reduced to 11.5 per cent in 2021.

The Socialist Party in government next year will make education totally free from nursery to university and compulsory from nursery to grade 12.

This government has made our young people victims of every kind of injustice imaginable. And when they explode, they want them to explode politely! Why, they are dealing with the wrong young people at the wrong time in the wrong way.

Let’s not forget that all over the world, it is young people who are actually involving themselves in the struggle to eliminate oppression, exploitation and humiliation. They are the ones who most quickly identify with the struggle and the necessity to eliminate the unacceptable conditions that exist.

But no grievances can justify atrocious acts such as the harming or injuring of people, burning and destruction of property. No crime can be committed in the name of legitimate grievances.

We urge our students to put forward their grievances in a very firm but peaceful manner.

Issued by Fred M’membe on behalf of the Politburo of the Socialist Party Garden Compound, Lusaka.

In defence of academic freedom

In defence of academic freedom Featured

The threats by Patriotic Front Lusaka Province secretary Kennedy Kamba to University of Zambia James Kayula for commenting on President Edgar Lungu’s third term bid are unacceptable and must stop.

These threats violet our lecturers and students’ academic freedom.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, academic freedom is the freedom of academics to teach and discuss; carry out research and publish the results and make them known; freely express opinions about the academic institution or system in which one works; participate in professional or representative academic bodies and not to be censored. It is grounded in democratic values that encourage scholars to be relevant to the larger society outside their classrooms. It is for this reason that the performance of scholars, for example at the University of Zambia, are evaluated against core values such as excellence, innovativeness, integrity, equity, social justice and social responsiveness. Political affiliation is definitely not one of the core values against which the credibility of law lecturers can be measured.

Academic freedom is the right of every scholar to explore, discuss and engage the general public within areas of specific and related expertise. The expertise of lawyers and law lecturers extends to all aspects of human endeavor because lawyers are called upon to adjudicate matters of birth and death; marriage and divorce; so what is special about the eligibility of a mortal president to lead others even more experienced and principled than him?

Our ruling party leaders and their supporters would do well to interrogate these wider issues that may well be beyond their learning capacity.  

We shouldn’t allow academic freedom to be increasingly threatened by a stifling culture of conformity that is restricting individual academics, the freedom of academic thought and the progress of knowledge – the very foundations upon which academia and universities are built. Scholars need academic freedom to critique existing knowledge and to pursue new truths.

Today, while fondness for the rhetoric of academic freedom remains, it is increasingly being called into question by identity politics.
We shouldn’t allow political expediency to change the purpose of the university and the nature of knowledge.

We need to confront and challenge to this culture of conformity and censorship and defend academic free speech for critique to be possible and for the intellectual project of evaluating existing knowledge and proposing new knowledge to be meaningful.

This short reflection is a challenge and a passionate call to arms for the power of academic thought today.

Fred M’membe

Garden Compound, Lusaka