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REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Mr Nkombo (Mazabuka Central): Madam Speaker, I beg to move that this House do adopt the Report of the Committee on Education, Science and Technology, for the Second Session of the Tenth National Assembly laid on the Table of the House on 13th November, 2008.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Is the Motion seconded?
Mr Munaile (Malole): Madam Speaker, I beg to second the Motion.
Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, I stand here to represent my Chairperson, Hon. Sinyangwe, hon. Member for Matero, who is currently away.
Madam Speaker, in accordance with their terms of reference, your Committee considered two topical issues, namely:
(i) change of policy in Science and Technology; and
(ii) University Education in Zambia.
Madam Speaker, it is my hope that hon. Members have had time to read your Committee’s Report. I will, therefore, only highlight a few important issues.
Change of policy in Science and Technology
Madam Speaker, your Committee learnt that the current National Policy on Science and Technology is the first explicit national policy document on Science and Technology ever. Further, your Committee heard that between the year 1964 and 1996, Zambia’s strategies on Science and Technology were influenced, primarily, by national development plans, boarder policy decisions by the Government and presidential directives.
Madam Speaker, this, resulted in following a poorly co-ordinated Science and Technology system, under popularisation of Science and Technology, rigidity in the education system and poor repertoire of information and data in the Science and Technology system.
Madam Speaker, the 1996 National Science and Technology Policy (NSTP) was the first attempt by the Government to have a clear policy on Science and Technology. This was influenced by the challenges arising from transformation of Zambia’s economy from a central State-controlled one to a free market liberalised economy one. In effect, the National Institute for Scientific Research (NCSR) was replaced by the National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). One deficiency that was identified in all the earlier policies was the absence of a comprehensive approach to Bio-Safety and Biotechnology. As a result, a Bio-Safety and Biotechnology policy was developed in the year 2004 and was followed by a Bio-Safety Act of 2007.
Madam Speaker, as regards to how far the 1996 Science and Technology Policy and the 1997 Science and Technology Act had been operationalised, your Committee were informed that it has been impeded by inadequate funding for research and development which has incapacitated institutions from fulfilling their programmes.
Madam Speaker, most research institutions have been receiving funding barely enough for personal emoluments or salaries. The anticipated allocation of 3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to Science and Technology has not been achieved. To date, Madam, only 29 per cent of this 3 per cent allocated amount has been given to the ministry. This has resulted in very little research activity taking place in the country.
Madam Speaker, failure to retain qualified and experienced staff, which has been mainly due to poor conditions of service, and in some cases lack of opportunities for staff development. There has also been a decline in the number of scientists being trained for the country’s social-economic needs.
Madam Speaker, the extent of dilapidation of infrastructure in research and development institutions is very high. The infrastructure has not been rehabilitated for many years and most of the equipment is obsolete. This is hindered research and development activities and frustrated researchers. Limited financing has also affected the institutions’ ability to establish sufficient research capacity through building of new laboratories and procuring new equipment.
Madam Speaker, the lack of pilot facilities for the incubation of technologies and adequate legal framework to regulate the commercialisation of research and development products has adversely affected commercialisation of newly developed technologies.
Madam Speaker, the fragmentation of research and development activities in the country has affected the effective rationalisation of resources for research and development. In addition, there has been poor co-ordination of research activities, resulting in negligible impact on national development, mainly due to weaknesses and gaps in the current policy and law.
Madam Speaker, lack of incentives to industries that support research and development programmes has deterred industries from participating in, and supporting research and development in the country. The fact that most of the industries currently operating in Zambia are foreign owned has resulted in very few companies using local expertise for research activities.
Madam Speaker, in view of the foregoing, your Committee recommend that:
(i) the Government should come up with a national vision for Science and Technology in which policies and legislation will be subsequently grounded.
(ii) the policy should address the necessity for a strong, nationally coordinated prioritised research agenda;
(iii) funding for research should be influenced and channeled through NSTC and not individual sectors.
(iv) The Science and technology Act should embrace the different sectoral policies and Acts in order for NSTC to have legal pulling through which to regulate and coordinate research activities in these sectors.
(v) The NSTC should be removed from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training in order for it to be seen as a superintending and cross sectoral research institute; and
(vi) Before new policies are introduce, there should be an in-depth assessment of prevailing policies and their shortcomings to avoid reviews even when failure may be attributable to other factors such as lack of implementation.
Madam Speaker, allow me to comment on University education in Zambia. Your Committee were informed that there are three public universities and these are the University of Zambia - Great east Road Campus, the Copperbelt University in Kitwe and the Mulungushi University in Kabwe, which was established recently. There are also private universities in the country and these are:
(i) Zambia Adventist University – Lusangu in Monze;
(ii) Zambia Open University in Lusaka West;
(iii) DMI-St Eugene University in Woodlands, Lusaka; and
(iv) Northrise University in Ndola on the Copperbelt
Madam, University Colleges that were detailed to your Committee include:
(i) Cavendish University College in Lusaka;
(ii) Australian Institute of Business and Technology (AIBT) in Lusaka; and
(iii) Copperstone University College in Kitwe.
Madam Speaker, your Committee were further informed that there are other universities and university colleges that the Government is planning to establish in the country in line with the principle of private-public sector partnership in the provision of education. These include the Zambia Catholic University to be opened in Kalulushi in 2008, the Victoria University to be established in Livingstone, the Manda Hill University to be established in Lusaka with a Campus in Ndola and a university to be established in Lusaka with an institute in the North-Western Province to offer mining technologies, science, natural resource, information systems, agro-processing, agriculture, Hotel Management and Engineering Technology.
Madam Speaker, as regards affiliation to universities abroad, your Committee learnt that the public universities were not affiliated, but private ones were and collaborated with other universities world-wide.
Madam Speaker, although private universities have done very well in the area of affiliation, your Committee were worried by the infrastructure and physical locations of these institutions.
Madam, in interacting with officers from public universities as stakeholders, your Committee came to the realisation that they lack adequate funding which has resulted into heavy indebtedness to both service providers and retirees. This is the principle factor to the problems at the University of Zambia as well as the Copperbelt University.
Madam Speaker, your Committee also observed that there is lack of cost sharing between the Government and students and their families. Students have taken the K300,000 meal allowance as an entitlement to cover feeding requirements. They further observed that the administration for the bursaries scheme is not based on vulnerability, but it is paid across the board to students whether they are in the category of being needy or not.
Madam Speaker, your Committee were dismayed to learn that the University of Zambia had no audited accounts reports since 1997, which is 11 years now. They are also of the view that the state of affairs is not only anomalous, but illegal as no institution that receives public funding should be allowed to go on for ten years without accounting for them.
Madam Speaker, in this regard, your Committee agreed that this has had the negative effect of eroding the confidence of the Government and co-operating partners in the university’s financial systems and no donor would put money in an organisation that cannot account for it.
Madam Speaker, in view of the foregoing, your Committee recommend the following:
(a) the Government should allow the university to charge economic fees which reflect the true cost of producing a graduate;
(b) the Government should put in place mechanisms of identifying vulnerable students in order to assist these with university fees on a loan scheme basis;
(c) students and their families should begin to contribute towards their education and meal allowance should be supplementary to the students own contribution;
(d) the University of Zambia Management should be compelled to produce the necessary audit report as per legal requirement;
(e) public universities should initiate income generating ventures to supplement Government grants and ensure that money so generated is properly accounted for;
(f) infrastructure in public universities should be expanded to march the ever increasing level of enrolment; and
(g) private universities should be compelled to develop infrastructure at locations benefiting the status of the institution.
Madam Speaker, your Committee also conducted public hearings on university education in Kabwe and Lusaka and the following are some of the stakeholders’ and observers’ concerns:
(i) The great number of strikes at the University of Zambia is allegedly due to inadequate funding by the Government;
(ii) Shortage of funds has led to brain drain because highly skilled manpower have left Zambian universities in search of “greener pastures”;
(iii) The Government should consider awarding bursaries to students in private universities;
(iv) The system used to award bursaries to students attending local and foreign institution is prone to abuse as even children from well-to-do families are awarded bursaries at the expense and detriment of the of he poor;
(v) Fees at Mulungushi University are too high for the ordinary citizens;
(vi) The Ministry of Education should consider strengthening the Careers and Counseling Department in secondary schools to guide the school leavers on how to select the right courses in order to avoid students picking courses because of popularity;
(vii) Universities should, from the onset, be computer-based because it is important that students attain high levels of computer literacy. It is imperative that universities are well equipped in Information and Communication Technology and personal financial management;
(viii) It is important that universities consider opening electronic libraries with very robust and modern computer laboratories; and
(ix) Mulungushi University should also find some infrastructure in Kabwe Town to be used as a Library which should be networked to the main library at the campus. This will help the students access the library nearer to their homes.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!
Business was suspended from 1815 hours until 1830 hours.
[MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER in the Chair]
Mr Nkombo: Madam Speaker, when business was suspended, I had just reached a point at which I was going to give the Committee’s recommendations to the Government, and responding to certain Members’ concerns that I am not melodramatic today, I wish to state that I attach a lot of passion to education and so, I wanted the hon. Minister to hear …
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! Read your report!
Mr Nkombo: … every word of what I was to say.
Madam Speaker, in view of the foregoing, your Committee recommended as follows:
(i) the Government should consider raising the annual grants to public universities;
(ii) the Government should assist public universities to settle huge debts that they owe to workers, service providers such ZRA, NAPSA etc;
(iii) public universities should review their remuneration system with a view to establishing a more realistic system because the current system, especially with regard to gratuities, is unrealistic;
(iv) the Government should ensure that the system used for awarding bursaries to students is transparent and that all those in need of bursaries, whether in public or private institutions, are given equal opportunities;
(v) the Government should assist private universities in order to ensure that they continue offering quality education in our country;
(vi) there is need for the Government to constantly inspect institutions of higher learning to ensure that the rules and regulations are adhered to at all times; and
(vii) the Government should ensure that proper and adequate infrastructure such as lecture rooms, libraries and laboratories, are in place before an institution of higher learning is registered.
Madam Speaker, I wish to conclude by thanking you for your valuable guidance and counsel during the session and in the deliverance of my speech. May I also take this opportunity to thank my colleagues who served on your Committee that Mrs Sinyangwe chairs, for the due diligence and hard work that they exhibited. In addition, I wish, on behalf of the Chairperson, to express your Committee’s gratitude to all witnesses and stakeholders, who made both oral and written submissions before your Committee and for hosting them during the local tours.
Lastly, Madam, allow me to thank the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly and her staff for the services rendered during your Committee’s work session.
Madam Speaker, I beg to move.
Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Madam Deputy Speaker: Does the Seconder wish to speak now or later?
Mr Munaile: Now, Madam Speaker.
Madam Speaker, in seconding this Motion so ably moved by the Chairperson, allow me to reinforce a few points of concern to your Committee as they considered the change of policy in science and technology and university education in Zambia.
Madam, I am alive to the fact that the Chairperson’s speech was very elaborate and I will, therefore, be very brief.
Madam, your Committee learnt that the rationale for the Presidential Speech pronouncement on the change in policy in science and technology and the mode that these changes would take was based on the following:
(a) there was need to address factors that were impeding the development and application of science and technology in Zambia such as weak regulation of the sector, funding to research activities, fragmentation of research and development activities in Zambia, lack of incentives to industries that support research and development, poor human resource development for the sector and the failure to retain qualified and experienced staff;
(b) the need to develop ways and means of maximising the contribution of science and technology to social economic development; and
(c) the need to incorporate into the policy, new and emerging issues in science and technology such as climate change. The policy is over ten years old and there have been many changes and developments since.
Madam, your Committee were told that the way forward will involve the review of the current National Policy on Science and Technology; development of an implementation strategy for the revised Science and Technology Policy; review of the current Science and Technology Act; and formulation of a Monitoring and Evaluation Mechanism on the implementation of the Science and Technology Policy. In light of this, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training has constituted a technical team which is going to oversee the process of reviewing the current Science and Technology Policy.
Madam Speaker, all stakeholders are of the view that the 1996 Science and Technology Policy as well as the Act, are well intentioned but have not been fully implemented, the main constraint cited being the lack of adequate funding to enable the key organisations such as the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) and the National Technology Business Centre, perform satisfactorily according to their mandates.
The following are some the stakeholders’ observations:
(i) there is no audit of the reasons the National Council for Scientific Research (NCSR) is increasingly failing to fulfil its mandate;
(ii) there is lack of National Science and Technology Agenda and Policy direction as was the case when the nation had a policy of import substitution;
(iii) there is lack of investment in science and technology, resulting in dilapidated infrastructure and inadequate number of scientists and technicians;
(iv) local industry is mainly either foreign owned or survives on hand-to-mouth and does not seem to need the services NISIR offers;
(v) the function of regulating research and development activities in the country has been impaired by the following flaws in the legal framework:
(a) the Council can only register and superintend research and development institutions which have been created under the Science and Technology Act and does not cover private research and development institutions and those established under different legal framework; and
(b) there are no punitive measures, sanctions or legal processes that the Council can resort to in case institutions choose not to be regulated or even registered.
Madam Speaker, in view of the foregoing, your Committee recommended that:
(i) before new policies are introduced, there should be an in-depth assessment of prevailing policies and their shortcomings to avoid reviews even when failure may be attributed to other factors such as lack of implementation; and
(ii) the Government should establish a formal inspectorate structure to be enshrined in the both the Policy and Act to assist the Council deal with erring institutions.
Madam Speaker, as regards the legal framework governing the establishment of universities, your Committee heard that the policy and legal framework regulating the establishment of universities in Zambia is the University Act No. 11 of 1999. The Act provides for the establishment, regulation, control and functions of public and private universities. The Hon. Minister can, by Statutory Instrument, establish public universities in accordance with the structure and requirements under the foresaid Act. The Ministry is in the process of reviewing this Act to ensure that it provides for the private public partnership to contribute towards the economic growth of the country and attain the 2030 vision of making Zambia a middle income country.
Madam Speaker, your Committee heard that under section 5 of the Act, the Hon. Minister can, on recommendation of the senate, approve the affiliation, with the public university of any college or other educational institution of teaching or research within or outside Zambia which has concluded an agreement to become affiliated with the Public University. Section 38 of the University Act, further states that any person or body of person desirous of establishing a private university, shall apply to the Hon. Minister. An application for the registration of a private university has to be accompanied by the prescribed fee and has to state the school and courses to be provided by the university and such other particulars as may be prescribed by statutory instrument by the Minister.
Madam Speaker, some of the concerns raised by stakeholders with regard to public universities are as set out below.
On indebtedness, the universities owe serving and former members of staff in unpaid long service bonuses, leave passages, end of contract gratuities, superannuation contributions and retirement packages. As of December, 2007, the University’s total debt stood at K264,944,318,104.08.
Madam Speaker, although the functions of the Council and its relationship with management are clearly outlined in the University Act No. 11 of 1999, the practice has been that the Council is not capable of disciplining senior officers found with cases, some of which are criminal in nature. The current Council tends to shield erring senior management staff.
The University’s history has been tremendously rich in industrial and other forms of unrest. Stakeholders are of the opinion that the unrest has been fuelled by the issues raised above. In view of the above concerns, your Committee recommend that:
(i) the Government should help public universities to liquidate their debts; and
(ii) the Government should streamline the administrative structure and empower the Council to deal with disciplinary issues.
In conclusion, Madam Speaker, I wish to extend my thanks to the Chairperson of your Committee for the able manner in which she presided over the meetings. Let me also thank all the witnesses for their input and co-operation.
I thank you, Madam.
Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Dr Chishya (Pambashe): Madam Speaker, I thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the Motion.
First of all, I would like to commend the Mover and the Seconder of the Motion in the way they have presented this Motion. I would like to further congratulate your committee on the report they have submitted which most of it tells nothing but the truth.
Madam Speaker, I will confine myself to the issues of science and technology. Madam Speaker, your Committee in their report on page 7 where they have given observations and recommendations and I hereby quote the first line of the first paragraph and it reads:
‘Your Committee observe that there is generally lack of a national science and technology agenda and policy direction unlike when the nation had a policy of import substitution.’
Madam Speaker, that is quite important. I would like to just say a word or two on what happened in the past. In 1967, the Agricultural Research Council Act was repealed and replaced with the National Council for Scientific Research Act and the aim was to advise Government on issues of science and technology so that Government policies on national development were supported by research and development.
Madam Speaker, at that time, Southern Africa was going through the liberation wars, hence importation and other trade was totally affected by economic sanctions and as such Government came up with the policy of import substitution and that created some research and development institution while sectoral research institutions remained untouched. Madam Speaker, the National Council for Scientific Research was given a mandate to create research activities in those areas which were lacking at the time. For example, Madam Speaker, there were no research and development activities in the area of Radio Isotopes, the Nuclear Research, the water resources, the food technology research, the tree improvement research, in this, the bias was towards the fruit bearing trees and the domestication of wild fruit bearing trees.
Madam Speaker, the natural products, the building and industrial minerals research, the pest and animal productivity scheme was a carryover from the Agriculture Research Council. Madam Speaker, that kind of approach, the policy of import substitution resulted in products appearing in the Zambian market, such products like the Tip-Top range of drinks, the fruit concentrates, the domestication of the Masuku tree, the cereal products and others. It even went further to get the coal in form of the coal briquettes. It will even touch the areas of energy and the recovery of uranium as a yellow cake which we were exporting. Further, from a yellow cake, it needs only one stage to create a nuclear energy source.
Madam Speaker, we also had a nuclear energy source in terms of cobalt 60 with the strength of 100 kilning and this was also applied in the preservation of food.
Mr Muntanga: Quality!
Dr Chishya: Madam Speaker, the problem arose because of under funding to this sector. This under funding saw a lot of activities being grounded or being stopped. The areas, for example, which were highly affected were, in the main, biosphere and the utilisation of the marshlands in Zambia. All that area has been totally abandoned.
Mr Muntanga: Tell them!
Dr Chishya: Madam Speaker, I touched the area of the beneficiation of industrial minerals, the coal briquettes and the material supplier which was the Maamba coal, also, was just limping. That means the Research and Development (R & D) had no connection or a poor linkage with the industry. So, we need to look at this. Are you pleased to hear that the Government is intending to revisit the science and technology policy and put all these into consideration or in its correct perspective?
Hon. Opposition Member: Hear, hear!
Dr Chishya: The current science and technology policy talks about institutional linkages, their arrangements. It does not talk about the vision in terms of research and development. If that has been achieved, though the mover says not everything has been achieved a lot of gaps are still remaining, but the time has come now to state our vision. How research and development is going to drive the 2030 vision, if at all it has to be realised. What do we want to do with science and technology? What role is it going to play? If we can recall, just some few years ago, at the time of Ian Smith when the economic sanctions where in place, Zambia was almost self sufficient in most of the things. This is because all those things were supported by research and development …
Hon. Opposition Member: Correct.
Dr Chishya: … but now, it seems we are going back, if we are not careful, to lining up for almost all commodities.
Hon. Opposition Member: Hammer!
Dr Chishya: Yes, there have been lamentations concerning the level of personnel at the research institution. It was an oversight on the part of the authorities, after spending so much money training the scientific cadre, to retire almost everybody at one time and leave the institution almost empty.
Hon. Opposition Members: Shame!
Dr Chishya: The Government now is faced with the problem of raising the funds to retrain or train a new scientific cadre and it takes more than 10 years to train a real scientific cadre, at least after a first degree. Now, all these factors have affected the implementation of science and technology. It is indeed disheartening to hear that the Government is saying or the committee also reporting on hiving the national science and technology council from the ministry.
Madam Speaker, this can be a wrong approach. The national science and technology council must be appended to a ministry like Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training for the implementation of the Government policies. The National Science and Technology Council cannot make its own policies at all, and the route to Parliament is through the ministry. So, hiving it away from the ministry is neither here nor there.
Madam Speaker, another issue is something about research and development which, as your Committee have reported, should be influenced by the National Science and Technology Council, but it should not be channelled through this institution. The funding of science and technology can come from various angles, not necessarily through the Government. It can also come from individuals, industry and even from various ministries. So, we should not restrict the channel of funding, but we can leave it 100 per cent open.
Madam Speaker, with these few words, I thank you very much.
Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!
Mr Mukanga (Kantanshi): Thank you, Madam Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to add my voice and the voice of Kantanshi to this important Motion. I would like, first of all, to state that when we talk about science and technology, it is to Zambia what the spinal cord is to the body. Without science and technology, there would be no serious development or sustainable development. Science and technology is the basis for all the developments that you see even in Western Europe.
Madam Speaker, right now, we have about 120,000 students who sat for grade 12 and out of those students, what normally happens is that, 30,000 of those students access universities and other colleges. Then, the breakdown will be that 16,000 students will go to University of Zambia (UNZA) and Copperbelt University (CBU), while the 14,000 will access other colleges, such as TEVETA oriented colleges or affiliated. If you subtract the 30,000 from 120,000, you will have about 90,000. Those 90,000 students will go into the community and this Government does not cater for them. If 90,000 students go into the community and you do not know what happens to them, then there is a big problem.
Madam Speaker, this is because this Government only uses about 20 per cent of the National Budget on education, not science and technology, but the education that deals with UNZA. So, which means that they are catering for 16,000 whilst Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training is given about 1 per cent, to be precise 0.8 per cent catering for about 14,000 plus the Grade 7, 9 and 12 drop outs. Now, if you are giving one 1 per cent to Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training, where is the seriousness, because science and technology makes a difference. If we deliberately do not invest in science and technology then, we are investing to fail because science and technology, unless it is revamped in this nation, whatever we are doing or thinking will be just theories. We need scientists of various forms. Speaking as one of the scientists, and as an engineer, I want to tell you that unless we invest in science in this nation, whatever we have been thinking of will not take place and investment is very important. If you want proper technology, you need to invest. Otherwise, if you do not invest you will be getting the ramshackle technology.
Mr Mukanga: The scientists will be coming from all over the world to come and apply ramshackle technology in Zambia leaving. We, as Zambians, have sent engineers to UNZA and they have graduated in various forms, but how are we using them? Most of the people who have graduated have seen themselves out of the country because there have been no incentives to give them. There have been no incentives to give the engineers. I want to give you an example: Fifty years ago, Zambia was almost the same as Taiwan and South Korea in as far as the auto industry was concerned.
However, as you may be aware, South Korea made a very important decision and that is to give incentives to the scientific sector of the nation. The South Korean Government gave incentives to engineers and now 50 years later, we have seen change. Today, Zambia has really gone backwards as we longer have companies like Livingstone Motor Assembly. What has happened to companies like Rover Zambia? On the other hand, South Korea is producing cars and other things that we are buying here in Zambia. Unless we deliberately come up with a serious policy of investment and there is political will, we are going to remain backward and in this age of computers, we will be no where as a country.
How do we expect change in technology if the country cannot invest in the sector? Expecting change in technology if we cannot deliberately invest in it is like expecting a dead man to speak. Things will not work and therefore, it is important that there is a good policy in science and technology if we are to see things changed. It is important that the sector that deals with science and technology is given a lot of money. Allocation of funds should change so that we give a lot of funding to science and technology, then we are going to see a deference in this country.
Madam Speaker, coming to basic education, we have always said that we have free basic education in Zambia. How free is this basic education when student, parents and guardians are always buying books, pencils and all other essentials that are required for this education? A lot of money, in terms of Parent Teacher Association (PTA) fees, is being paid by the parents. How free is that? I remember the days when I was a student, if a book finished, we were just given another one for replacement. That is free education.
So if education is going to be free, we need school essentials to be given and the Government to have a serious and deliberate policy to ensure that schools are built in good proximity to the residential areas. I can give an example of my constituency which is along the line of rail. If you are somewhere around Mukambo in Kasombo, you can only access the nearest Government primary school 10 kilometres from Kasombo. How is a Grade 1 pupil expected to walk such a distance? If you are in Mupena, to access the nearest secondary school you have to walk 15 kilometres. Now, how do we expect a girl child to walk such a distance to go to school?
These are serious which the Government needs to look at. It is not a joking issue. We are looking at issues that will affect the future generation and therefore, we need to acknowledge that there is already a problem. Since a girl child cannot manage to walk 15 kilometres everyday to school and back, what parents are doing is that they are renting quarters for them in town. At the end of the day, instead of the girl child getting a certificate, she gets a baby and it is against the intentions …
Hon. MMD Members interjected.
Mr Mukanga: Where? We should not joke about such serious matters and sing songs that we are improving when things are not working on the ground. If such things can happen along the line of rail, what about places that are far-off from the line of rail? In the Bangweulu Swamps in Luapula Province, how are the children expected to survive?
Madam Speaker, if you look at the teaching service, I think there seems to be a lot of problems which this Government would have resolved. The teachers have been complaining about accommodation and saying there is no accommodation. Yes, there is no accommodation because the teachers who retire are not given their benefits in good time such that they continue staying in those houses. It is very frustrating to a new teacher because he or she sees that there is a house that he or she would have occupied. Why can we not change the whole approach to this system so that whenever a teacher retires, the benefits are given there and then so that the accommodation is available new teachers? This should also be the case for those who are occupying these ministry houses.
Madam Speaker, the houses in Mufulira are in very bad shape. I can give an example of the houses at Mufulira High School Teacher’s Compound. They have big cracks such that if you are standing inside, you can literally greet somebody who is passing outside.
Hon. Government Members: Aah!
Mr Mukanga: I brought pictures of those houses to the hon. Minister and I am wondering what type of maintenance is being carried out. They were last maintained about 15 years ago.
Mr Mukanga: You are even shouting when you have never been there, but people are suffering …
Mr Kasongo: You even gave the pictures to the hon. Minister.
Mr Mukanga: Yes, I even gave the hon. Minister pictures of the dilapidated houses. What type of life style is that? You were elected by the people and they want to see results.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! Address them through the Chair.
Mr Mukanga: Madam Speaker, such issues in the teaching fraternity reduce the morale of teachers. A teacher is supposed to start off from home as a very happy person to go and teach. When these same teachers who are frustrated here go to other countries, they are regarded as very hard workers. People say they work very hard and are happy. So we need to create a situation where we improve the conditions of service for these teachers in order to retain them in the country. It is not just a matter of recruitment. The hon. Members on your right should understand the three ‘R’s. You recruit, retrain and retain. If you just recruit and cannot retrain and retain, then you are doing nothing and become a training ground all the time and this is why Zambia has become a training ground. At times, I am even surprised with the way the Teaching Commission runs the teaching service. I have seen people who are promoted posthumously. A person is dead and that is when the promotion letter comes or a person retires at a certain scale but the benefits are given at a different scale. I do not understand that. I think seriousness is required and I hope the hon. Minister will make a difference and do something.
Madam Speaker, let me now come to the School of Medicine, where doctors and pharmacists are trained. The people whom we are entrusting with our lives are trained in that school. Now, according to the report we are told that at times when lectures are being conducted, students learn while standing outside lecture theatres or in short, they learn through rumours. What can be expected of somebody who learns through rumours?
It is not only the lecture rooms that are inadequate, even the hostels where the students stay are in a deplorable state. However, the hon. Members on your right are smiling and saying that they are bringing education to Zambia. What type of education is that? They should visit other places and see where the medical doctors are trained. We have a situation where doctors are learning in such an environment and a committee is the one to bring this to our attention. One of the issues the Committee brought out was that even the surroundings of the place where they stay are unkempt. Why should we wait for the Committee to bring out such issues when we have hon. Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and other people that are in charge.
I think the whole thing should be changed. We need a change in our attitudes and the way we look at issues. We should not expect the Committee to come and tell us that learning institutions are dirty. The hon. Minister should first think about this and see what he can do to improve the situation. Actually, the first people to know should be the Permanent Secretaries and everybody else in charge. The hon. Minister should just question. If the attitudes of those in the Government continue like this and we continue to move at this pace, in 2011, I do not see the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) retaining power.
Hon. PF Members: Hear, hear!
Mr Mukanga: The Patriotic Front (PF) is about improving facilities, efficiency and better living conditions. This is why the people along the line of rail of are always singing, “Pabwato, pabwato, the boat” because they know that we want better living conditions for them.
I thank you, Madam Speaker.
Hon. PF Members: Hear, hear!
Mr Muntanga (Kalomo): Madam Speaker, I wish to congratulate the Committee on Education, Science and Technology. They have brought out a lot of issues for the Government to take note, and that is what it should be. A committee is supposed to respect and remind the Government where the policies are affected so that they take action. However, my worry is that there is some kind of lack of seriousness at times by the Government by not taking the reports of these committees seriously. We sit here and listen to debaters and sometimes, a minister will make a comment while seated against a well presented report, then we begin to wonder whether he went to school or not. I have seen some ministers when something is said, their faces look serious indicating to you that they are serious, meanwhile they are not.
Therefore, I want to appeal to some ministers to be serious with work. This ministry which we are talking about, the Ministry of Science and Technology is an issue that we have been battling to find an answer.
At one time, we had a Ministry of Education covering both science and technology, but was later split into two, the Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Education. We then thought that we are not addressing this issue properly, and we created the Ministry of Science and Technology, but we have not given the power required for that ministry to address this important issue. When the hon. Member for Pambashe, Dr Chishya, a Scientist, was speaking …
Hon. Government Members: He is still a scientist.
Mr Muntanga: … when you are a professional, whether you are a politician or not, you remain a professional. When he was narrating what was being done in Zambia and you discovered that this information is lost, you want to shed tears.
The old man, our First Republican President (Dr Kenneth Kaunda) with his ‘under education’, was able to provide what was required. We have various colleges being attended to by many Zambians namely; Northern Technical College (NORTEC), Zambia Institute of Technology ( ZIT) and others where a number of these people trained.
Madam Speaker, it is a fact that once you become a professional, you only want to do planning and administration. As a professional, you need technocrats to translate what you have done for people who have not gone very far with their education understand those things.
In Zambia, we have more technocrats and we want to make everybody professionals and no workers at all. As a result, we believe that we have too many professionals. If you go to any ministry, you will find that there are Doctors and professors, but what is happening on the ground you begin to wonder what they do in these ministries. This science and technology issue which has been addressed properly by the committee is very important.
Madam Speaker, the changing of ministries reminded me of the Ministry of Agriculture on research which was under agriculture to make it to the National Council for Scientific Research. Before it was changed, we had moved a lot of stages. We even bred our own type of cattle. We had to cross-breed a buffalo with a cow and called it a beefalo.
Ms Namugala interjected.
Mr Muntanga: Yes, maybe, it is too strange for you. After producing a beefalo, we had to look at our output from the animal which could be suitable for Zambian environment.
Madam Speaker, when we went to Mount Makulu, I got a sorry sight. There are officers that have shared Mount Makulu land for their plots …
Ms Cifire: Arrest them!
Mr Muntanga: Arrest them when you are allowing them to do it. You can make reshuffles for ministers who are corrupt today, but you will note that even the other one who goes there is also corrupt. This will continue until there is no end to it. All land that was used for research is gone. These are not allegations. Push me, and I will show you.
Madam Speaker, what we are saying is that we want equitable distribution, we do not want the Ministry of Education to compete with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training, and this is a danger usually because the other one thinks education is more important than the other and then you throw away 300,000 kids in the streets. Only 10 per cent can go to science and technology. As for these other colleges you have all over, funding is not there. We want to appeal to this Government that an issue of science and technology is very important. Therefore we should be able to explain for whatever we are doing.
Hon. Member for Pambashe, the Masuku Wine you produced has gone under because there is no production. We want to have industrial development where companies should use that science and technology. Unfortunately, they cannot use it because they are disorganised and do not know where to go. NORTEC and ZIT were attached to the mines and when students graduated from those colleges, the mines used to take them on.
Madam Speaker, this is the reason we are having people like the Chinese coming into this country because they think that they are the ones who can understand the Chinese technology. If you went to China, they will just tell you to take the money and then they will use their technology. Therefore, when are we going to stand alone and use our own technologies for whatever is brought in this country? For instance, when are we going to tell them that we have our own technology, so just give us the money and we will sew certain suits or dresses ourselves? Why is it that we should always have endless meetings? Even making a book, you must have someone from outside to tell us how to make a book. Surely, we do not need that.
You go to students in schools, JETS fairs; the competition of schools then was a big issue and …
Major Chizhyuka: Even the ballot paper.
Mr Muntanga: … to do JETS in schools was a big issue. We have somebody in Mporokoso who has designed a generator to produce electricity and he only wants K80 million to advance this technology, but he has not been given the money.
Hon. Government Members: Aah!
Mr Muntanga: Yes, you should have read the report from the Committee on Education, Science and Technology. The man could not get K80 million, and what is K80 million from you as a Government to give this person so that he proves the technology? Why should it be so? The Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training is a ministry that encompasses several ministries. It is a ministry where in agriculture you go to, Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development and many others that you may think of.
As regards tourism, you need to understand what to do when there is an outbreak of tsetse flies. You should be able to know why you want to cross breed these insects so that they stop. Again, this is where science and technology will come in to investigate. Gone are the days when we had Professor Goma who would tell you what type of mosquito was at Goma Lakes. If you took a mosquito to Professor Goma, he would say that this mosquito is not from Kariba, but my lakes here.
Mr Kasongo: Even climate change.
Mr Muntanga: Are we ready for that climate change? This is why I decided to stand up and debate because we need to be serious with certain debates. We do not need any hon. Minister to stand up and brush off the debate by Members of Parliament. You need to listen. Unfortunately, when you stand up, you brush us aside saying, there is nothing we have researched.
Madam Speaker, when are we going to be serious? These are hon. Members and once you are given an honour to be a hon. Minister, first and foremost, we believe you are more intelligent than others, but if you start showing us signs of playing, we will check and ask why you are there.
Perhaps, we should remind you about this problem. We are not even talking about education levels because the people that started this country did not have the education that all of you have. We had a hundred graduates at independence. What did they do? They did a lot of work.
Madam Speaker, we want to appeal to other ministries that this is not only up to the Ministries of Education and Science, Technology and Vocational Training. It is up to every single ministry. Perhaps, it is time Hon. Daka, who is Minister of Science, Technology and Vocational Training should tell the Minister of Agriculture and Co-operatives and the Minister of Health to also contribute to the budget for research so that research is not destroyed in this country.
Madam Speaker, we had reached levels where we had a seed for Zambia. We had the Mount Makulu MM603, 604 and MM 705. Those were hybrids that were very good. We have now bought hybrids developed in neighbouring countries like Diplobia and things like that. What has happened to our research and adopted cropping systems for the animals and diseases? How are we going to respond?
The Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training is a cross-cutting ministry and what the Committee has brought out is very important. I must thank you. Sometimes, we debate here and you have not read the report. I have seen hon. Ministers stand here without having read the reports then get busy giving excuses for not being able to do this or that.
These are the Speaker’s reports requiring Government action and replies. You, hon. Ministers, must understand that if your Permanent Secretaries are going to give replies that sound like you are playing the radio ...
Hon. Opposition Member: We will do when funds are available.
Mr Muntanga: … we do not want that. We demand that you read, input and show intelligence.
Hon. PF Member: Teach them!
Mr Simuusa: If they do not have intelligence, they do not have it.
Mr Muntanga: You should be able to say this is not correct. I look at all of you and you are all educated and intelligent people. There are Professors, Doctors and so on.
Hon. Member: Fashion!
Hon PF Member: Dr Kombo!
Mr Muntanga: Madam Speaker, your report is very important for the development and benefit of this country and should, therefore, be taken seriously. I have chosen to take this line and appeal to my friends, the hon. Ministers that when you address an issue like this one, you must think that Zambia needs this type of support and that there must be immediate response to these questions. If we do not do that, we will be throwing Zambia to the wind.
Next time, you will be hiring someone to write a letter for you and yet, you are calling yourself as a doctor, but you cannot write because you do not understand. We do not need that.
Madam Speaker, I thank you.
Hon. UPND Members: Hear, hear!
Dr Machungwa (Luapula): Madam Speaker, I wish to add my voice to the debate on this very important motion on education, science and technology. As I am debating for the first time since the appointments, let me begin by congratulating those colleagues who have been appointed to ministerial and deputy ministerial positions. Some have even been elevated to higher positions like Hon. George Kunda, now His Honour, and Hon. Tetamashimba who is not here and has achieved his long-held ambition of getting into Cabinet. Though he is not here, I congratulate him and others.
I also welcome those who have moved to the back bench. There is, indeed, a wealth of experience on that important bench which others refer to by some names such as kanakuzingwa or whatever, but you find the Kalumbas, the Mabengas, the Silavwes and the Nyirongos. You will learn a lot from there. Therefore, you must feel comfortable because you are part of the whole House. This is the nature of business. You are very welcome.
Madam Speaker, for those on the backbench of the MMD, I would like advise patience.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! You have done enough justice to that topic. Can you come to the report?
Dr Machungwa: Thank you Madam Speaker. I just want them to have heart.
Madam Speaker, in supporting the Motion, I first wish to commend the Mover, Hon. Garry Nkombo and the Seconder, Hon. Emmanuel Munaile for their very lucid presentations to the House. I also wish to commend members of the Committee for a job well done.
Madam Speaker, funding of education is extremely expensive and has been very problematic in this country for a very long time, especially beginning from when economic decline set in this country in the mid-1970s. As the economy deteriorated, it became increasingly difficult to fund education, especially higher education.
Madam Speaker, funding of tertiary and higher level training has been a problem for some time. When there was a change in Government to re-introduce multi-party politics in 1991, this was and it continues to be a problem.
For university education, after some time, it was agreed that students and their parents or guardians should contribute towards education tuition. What has happened is that whereas we used to …
Mr Tetamashimba walked into the Chamber.
Dr Machungwa: Welcome, Hon. Tetamashimba.
Dr Machungwa: I was congratulating you for achieving a long-held ambition. Now you are in.
Mr Tetamashimba: That is malicious.
Dr Machungwa: Welcome.
Madam Speaker, we progressively started to increase the contribution of the parents and guardians towards education and especially higher education. This has not worked very well. The 25 per cent which is being contributed is still not adequate to help the state run these training institutions very well.
Madam Speaker, there were attempts to look at what is happening in other countries. For example, in Ghana, there is a loan system where the Government, through the universities, gives students loans and when they graduate and begin work they begin paying through their social security institution to the State.
Madam Speaker, the legislation which enables that system was studied and it was hoped that soon, the Government would go that route to make it easier to fund education. For some strange reason, there has been some kind of inertia. Maybe, our colleagues want to re-invent the wheel and start afresh.
Madam, we continue to have these problems which are not going to go away because funding education is very expensive. It is incumbent upon our colleagues in the Government to follow up these ideas. If they cannot and want to re-invent the wheel, or come out with pull outs or rub it out the hat to fund it, let them do that. However, as long as we keep doing things in the same order of business all the time, we will not progress.
Madam Speaker, the population of the country is increasing and our economy is not growing at the rate we would wish it to grow to support higher education and even lower level education. Unless some different kind of initiative is brought out, we are not going very far.
Presently, the Government is giving grants to three public universities; the University of Zambia, the Copperbelt University and now the Mulungushi University.
When I was reading the report, I was interested to see the fees that are being paid by students to the three universities. Obviously, the fees are not enough. The reason is that a lot of our people may not be able to afford. The unfortunate part of it is that, even when they give these bursaries, there no proper means test. You find that a child of a Minister or a hon. Member of Parliament is receiving bursary when there are other needy people who should get the bursary. Madam, because of lack of a proper means test, we find that people who can afford are the ones getting the support and those who cannot do not get the support. Madam, we cannot continue that way. Something must be done to be able to identify those who really need it and let those who can afford be able to pay towards that.
Madam Speaker, when I looked at the fees, I noticed something interesting. At the University of Zambia, the fees range from K6 million for those in the School of Social Sciences and Humanities to K7.4 million for those in the School of Natural Sciences and Engineering, it may be a little bit higher for those in the School of Medicine, per year.
Madam, that information is in the report. At the Copperbelt University, fees range from K5.7 million to K7.5 million depending on the field in which they are. When you go to the Mulungushi University, students are required to pay K27 million per year. This is a public university. According to the Vice-Chancellor of the Mulungushi University who appeared before Madam Speaker’s Committee, the university was established as an economic venture and it is intended to be self financing. It was intended to be an option university for those that could manage. This is at page 25 of the report.
Now, this is a Government university. Are we trying to set up an elitist university for the bourgeois who can afford to send their children to that university? Surely, if they can afford, why not let them go to a private university where they can pay all they want? You see, we have problems at public universities. We are setting up an institution with public resources to exclude those who might be very bright, but cannot afford the fees at that university and we are saying it is a public university. What kind of warpped thinking is this? I do not agree.
Mr Chanda: On a point of order, Sir.
Madam Deputy Speaker: A point of order is raised.
Mr Chanda: Madam Speaker, I rise on very serious point of order. Is the hon. Minister of Education in order to keep quiet when there have been reports of examination leakages throughout the country? Is he in order to keep quiet without informing the House on what measures the Government is taking.
Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!
Madam Deputy Speaker: The point of order is in relation to examination leakages. Yes, it is important that the nation would want to know what is happening, but the Chair is not aware whether the exams are over or whether giving a statement in the midst of these occurrences would really give the entire picture of what is happening. I am sure that the hon. Minister, at the right time, may brief this House and the nation on the status of examination leakages and arrests of those that may have been involved in that malpractice. The hon. Member for Luapula may continue.
Dr Machungwa: Madam Speaker, I thank you.
As I conclude on this particular point, let me mention that the Zambia Open University is a private university set up by academics originating from the University of Zambia. What they are charging is K4.3 million per year. Of course, it may be argued that it is a non-residential arrangement. Therefore, it is expected to be slightly cheaper. However, when you look at what they are doing in the report and the salaries that they are able to pay, I think they are doing very well. If a private university can charge K4.3, there is no justification for K27 million, unless you are just trying to build that university for some people somewhere.
Mr Kasongo: They are outrageous!
Dr Machungwa: Madam Speaker, for the public and private institutions to run effectively, efficiently and be highly productive, they need financial inputs which I have been talking about. These are material and human inputs. Now, let me talk about human inputs. They need teachers, lecturers, researchers and other practitioners who have skills and integrity to perform. Of course, they need students who come from our secondary schools or ‘high basic schools’ because the hon. Minister wants to call them ‘basic basic’ …
Dr Machungwa: They come from these high schools.
Now, let me come to the issue that has been mentioned by Hon. Chanda. This is the issue about examination leakages. Madam Speaker, with your permission, let me just quote briefly from the Daily Mail, of Tuesday, 18th November, 2008, Page 2.
“Three Priests arrested over leaked exam papers.”
Dr Machungwa: Listen to me very carefully.
“Three Catholic Church Priests, who are teachers at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Mansa have been arrested in connection with leaking Grade 12 Examination Papers. The teachers who where picked together with four pupils for allegedly being in possession of original copies of pre-written Grade 12 Examination Papers are due to appear in court on December, 5. They have been charged with unauthorised possession of examination papers or information.
Over the past two weeks, over 40, Grade 12 pupils from different schools in Luapula have been arrested for allegedly being in possession of examination papers. The pupils were arrested at St Charles Lwanga, St Clements, Kabunda Girls, Mansa High School and Mansa Skills Secondary schools while others were caught in Mwense and Kawambwa. Meanwhile, all arrested pupils have been barred from writing Grade 12 Examinations for two years.
Kasama residents have appealed to the Ministry of Education to dismiss teachers who are allegedly involved in examination malpractice because they are compromising the standard of education.”
Madam, I would like to say that these …
Major Chizhyuka: Which Church?
Dr Machungwa: It is not a question of Church.
… are teachers. We have had problems of examination leakages in this country, but in the last several years, these leakages are occurring at examination centres. The Examination Council of Zambia has managed to put up a system where the leakages are not at their office, but happening in the schools because the teachers are entrusted with these papers. Although Luapula is mentioned, in the past years, there have been reports from all over the country. To safeguard the integrity of our education system, what is the hon. Minister or Government doing to ensure that the credibility of our system remains intact? This is extremely serious because it undermines integrity and credibility, and reduces the respect and standing of the education system or even our universities. Some of the students you find at the universities got there because of examination leakages, when they are not supposed to be there. What are we supposed to be doing?
Major Chizhyuka: Arrest the father!
Dr Machungwa: Madam Speaker, about 119,000 pupils complete form five every year. Of these, 81,000 take examinations set by the Examinations Council of Zambia. Another 38,000 take external examinations set in the United Kingdom, like the General Certificate of Education (GCE) or Cambridge Certificate.
Madam, from my research, I am sad to report that, in fact, the number of those wanting to take examinations from the United Kingdom is increasing because of the leakages and it appears that we are not able to control them.
Madam Speaker, I looked at some figures from Mpelembe Secondary School on the Copperbelt. It is a school which has a very high reputation where they are now deciding that they will stop taking examinations from the Examinations Council of Zambia, but from GCE or Cambridge. Now, I looked at the fee sheet. Each student per entry pays £9.30. If they are taking eight subjects, they pay another £15.90 per subject and then they pay an administration fee of £100. For one student who is taking eight subjects, the student will pay about £236.50, which works out at current exchange rate to K1.8 million. The total cost at one sitting in our country, considering that about 38,000 are taking external examinations, comes to £9 million or K68 billion.
Mr Kasongo: Externalised.
Dr Machungwa: Yes, externalised. The hon. Minister can check these facts because they are coming from various institutions including the ministry, the Examination Council of Zambia and the schools. This number is increasing. Do we really need to sit quietly and fold our hands while the integrity and credibility of our education system is being jeopardised so that most of our students go through this? Here, to sit for an examination, all they pay is about K37,000 but now each student is being forced to pay K1.8 million abroad. Can the hon. Minister not come up with some piece of legislation which will make it an offence, especially for those teachers - I do not care if they are fathers, mothers, brothers, monks or whatever born again - so that they can go straight to jail and even if they come out, they are not going to get a job in the teaching profession in this country? It is not a church thing because some of the leakages have occurred elsewhere. We have to protect the integrity of our education system.
Madam, the hon. Minister should begin thinking about it. I used to be a Head of Department in a university where I used to teach. When certain people applied for a job, because of the lack of integrity and credibility of the country where they came from, we never took them on. We had various others who were coming from respected countries and we allowed them to come. When I went to study abroad, I was admitted straight to a Master’s because I had a bachelor’s degree. People from seven other countries had to have a Master’s before they could be admitted to come there. That is what this country can do.
Mr Muntanga: On a point of order, Madam Speaker.
Dr Machungwa: Nkala pansi iwe. This man is my mulamu but he is causing problems.
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order! Continue debating!
Dr Machungwa: Madam Speaker, what I am asking the two hon. Ministers is to safeguard the integrity and credibility of our education system. We do not need to have it undermined. We need to strengthen it. Let us protect our own institution and support the examining body. Let us strengthen it and take out these leakages so that we can move forward.
Madam Speaker, with that contribution, I thank you.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Vocational Training (Mr Daka): Madam Speaker, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to debate. In the first instance, I would like to congratulate His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, His Honour the Vice-President and my colleagues for doing a commendable job that we retained the party into Government.
Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!
Mr Daka: Madam, Msazala Constituency scored a landslide. I remember somebody was boasting about a landslide and I want to mention that too.
Mr Daka: Madam Speaker, in the first instance, I would like to commend the mover of the motion, the seconder and all those who spoke, especially Dr Chishya. I do not want to take anything away from him. I just want to say that scientists do not retire. Scientists are like wine. They older the go, the better they become.
Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
Mr Daka: Madam, therefore, I want to urge my brother that he has not retired. This is when he can concentrate more on doing better research on maheu and other drinks that have come out of National Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR). I would also want to congratulate and commend Hon. Muntanga for what he has said. I also want to commend my good friend from Kantanshi Constituency. I cannot disagree with any recommendation that the Committee have observed. What I would like to say is that from next year, it is the intention of Government that we should have a college in each district.
Mr Daka: Madam, we have colleges in all the provinces in Zambia today. In certain provinces, we have more than two colleges like Southern Province and later on, the Copperbelt Province. It is the intension of this Government to ensure that tertiary education is improved in Zambia.
Madam, I would want to give an example of Solwezi Trades. All the students that have graduated from Solwezi Trades have found jobs at Lumwana Mine and Kansanshi Mine. That is what we want to see more in this country. As hon. Members of Parliament, as we go back, we should talk to our leaders who are our chiefs. We have a policy of zero-entropy in our ministry. Zero-entropy means that whether somebody has dropped from Grade 7, they will pick up a trade from our colleges. Whether one has dropped from Grade 9, they will pick up a trade or a crafts certificate. Where somebody has dropped from Grade 12 going into university, they will pick up something. Really, the policy that we are reviewing will be coordinated with what the Parliamentary Committee has said.
Madam, I do not want to take much of your time. I want to recommend all the speakers that have contributed to this motion on the ministry.
I thank you, Madam.
Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!
The Minister of Education (Professor Lungwangwa): Madam Speaker, to begin with, I would like to do the unconventional.
Professor Lungwangwa: Madam, there are one or two points in the report that should be corrected because this is a very important document of the House and it must contain factual information. On Page 15, there is reference to Norwegian donor organisation (NORAD), as the organisation that funded UNZA with K2.1 billion for student hostel accommodation construction.
That information is wrong because that money was given to the Government by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and not NORAD. It was money that was eventually handed over to the university. I thought that we should make that correction as this document is important.
Secondly, Madam, on page 16, there is reference to the fact that organisers of the All Africa Games chose the University of Zambia (UNZA) as the village for the games. It is not the organisers, but this Government which decided that UNZA would be the All Africa Games’ village.
Hon MMD Members: Hear, hear!
Professor Lungwangwa: That is a statement that needs to be clear so that we all know where the decision came from.
Madam Speaker, on the same page, there is another reference to the fact that there has been a freeze on recruitment of staff at UNZA. Madam, there has not been any freeze on recruitment of staff at the university. Those are the corrections which I thought should not dilute the importance of this document.
Madam Speaker, that having been said, I would like to thank you for having directed this important Committee to focus, especially, on one aspect of our educational system in the country, University Education. I know that some of those that have debated on this Motion have gone into other areas of the educational system even though they would like us to focus on University Education, which is important.
Madam Speaker, I would like to commend your Committee for the work that they have done. This report has raised a number of issues which, of course, as a Government, we are very aware of. The issues that have been raised can be divided into five major points:
(i) the development of universities in our country;
(ii) staff and student welfare in our universities;
(iii) stability of the universities;
(iv) relevancy of universities to national development; and
(v) governance of the universities.
Madam Speaker, these are very important issues or topics within which we can realistically look at the operations and development of our universities. These five topics boarder on very important aspects of university operations, namely:
(i) Financing of universities;
(ii) legal framework of the universities;
(iii) auditing of academic and administrative operations of the universities;
(iv) Government/University relationships;
(v) the management of universities; and
(vi) the university curriculum, including public support of the universities.
Madam Speaker, these have been tackled by your Committee, who have taken their work seriously, for which we commend them.
Madam Speaker, at this point, I would like …
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order!
The House adjourned at 1955 hours until 0900 hours on Friday, 21st November, 2008.