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Higher Education and the National Crisis

Higher Education and the National Crisis

No earthly country has no problems. But some countries have far too few problems compared to this so-called Christian Nation, Zambia. To borrow from the philosopher Thomas Kuhn, every scientific paradigm is faced with problems. That’s why the paradigm exists to resolve those problems. But problems can turn into crises and the paradigm is under threat. Not under threat from outside, but from within. The paradigm’s own failure to solve its problems are the seeds of its downfall. According to Kuhn, problems become crises when they are too many, too serious, or last for too long without being resolved.

Going by these criteria from philosophy of science, by analogy, is the Zambian government in crisis? Are the problems under the Patriotic Front too many, too serious, and have lasted too long? Vernon Mwaanga says it would be folly for anyone to think things are well in Zambia. And he ably justified his claim. In this article, I want to link our national crisis with higher education (HE) especially grant-aided public institutions, the University of Zambia (UNZA) and the Copperbelt University (CBU).

The Bible puts it very categorically, and I agree, that lack of knowledge can lead to a people perishing. Plato’s philosophy is an exaltation of knowledge; the search for ultimate reality and the truth; the search for clarity of meaning; and the search for true morality to guide both our private lives and political institutions. So much was Plato committed to the knowledge that rulers for his kallipolis (ideal or beautiful state) had to be philosopher-kings. This is not rule by the educated, simpliciter.

Plato’s rulers were knowledgeable but, in addition, they had to be virtuous and in possession of proven practical wisdom. Plato was aware that an educated fool is not an oxymoron or contradiction. So, he required that his rulers also receive moral education and demonstrate it in administration of public affairs. Rulers thus trained would preside justly over a meritocratic materially prosperous and secure state. Can we learn from Plato? Could Zambia’s crisis be due to the low premium we place on knowledge and moral education in our private lives and public organisations? Memory lane.

UNIP and the MMD

The founders of the Zambian Republic exhibited great thirst for knowledge. My history isn’t too exact. Those who want the proper history must look elsewhere, sorry. But Kenneth Kaunda is an intellectual, a statesperson per excellence, a visionary. Both his domestic and foreign policies were guided by an ideology. Although the late philosopher Ronnie Khul Bwalya criticised Kaundaism as “not philosophical with attendant arguments”, he acknowledged the ideology “was formed in all seriousness for the purpose of completing the liberation process”. Partly because Kaunda had an intellectual ethos guiding his politics, he found concord with many great leaders of his time stretching from Africa, Latin America, to Asia. Kabusha takolelwe bowa: “Who are President Lungu’s political friends internationally?”

With a humble formal education, Kaunda set in motion a robust socio-economic developmental agenda in line with his humanist paradigm. He galvanised the nation to build the University of Zambia. A people’s university. On the day KK was unveiled as the university’s Chancellor, he wept genuine tears of deep sadness and joy. He wept with sadness at the colonial educational legacy that had ostracised on racial lines the indigenous population from meaningful higher education. He cried with joy for the dawn of a new day in Zambian higher education.

The university would be the intellectual springboard for national development and governance. During his rule, Kaunda proudly presided over the University of Zambia as Chancellor. This may be a sign of his passion for HE, dedicating his attention to ensuring the institution did not lack. The University of Zambia came complete with a publishing outfit, UNZA Press which ran then internationally prominent journals. The Kenneth Kaunda Foundation further shows Kaunda valued knowledge as the cornerstone of his nation-building project.

Intellectualism flourished as young men and women from the breadth and width of the country trekked to Lusaka to drink at the fountain of knowledge from fine brains, both local and international. Several monographs and edited volumes dated during the Kaunda tenure attest to the University being a top institution during the Kaunda years. Oral tradition from lecturers and alumni alike speak of a golden age of a university that was a continental icon.

Frederick Chiluba pretty much hired graders and razed to the ground almost everything Kaunda had built. Academic morale hit its nadir under the stylish, well-spoken Pentecostal president. Education wasn’t his cup of tea. His hostility to HE disoriented some of our best brains. And Botswana et al said, “Thank you very much. Just what we need to develop our country!” The University of Zambia plummeted on university rankings. A shambolic academic calendar saw UNZA lose its place as a destination of choice for international students as well as some local students, exchange programmes became unsustainable.

To be sure, Chiluba assembled what appeared to be a powerful team of educated individuals. Unfortunately, he told them it was time to eat, not to work. After his downfall, the courts were not short of professors and PhDs implicated in plundering national resources. That’s what happens when the head of the fish is rotten. Chiluba was more concerned about appearing tall, dandy, pious, and educated. He was quick to announce a Christian nation that is still haunting the nation nearly three decades later.

Present Day: The Patriotic Front

Michael Sata, with little known education, appointed lecturers to his cabinet and senior government positions. He brought in from the UK a renowned engineer to resuscitate our railway transport. He knew Zambia had lost vast human resource to the diaspora and extended an olive branch to them. Contrasted with Lusambo who sees our emigrants as toilet cleaners, Sata saw in the diaspora a critical human resource that could power Zambia’s human development.

Sata remunerated lecturers competitively and timely. The morale in public HE was high, and a number of lecturers sponsored themselves for further studies, selflessly bolstering the number of PhDs at the university and in the country. Although Sata correctly diagnosed educated people as the worst cowards, he passionately believed in their knowledge as key for national development. And he was very confident surrounded by educated people! Some educated people will let you down, but it’s always the wiser bet. Unfortunately, it will be impossible to evaluate Sata’s legacy on HE because he was unwell and died too soon. But someone else was unleashed. Sata’s very anti-thesis.

The PF under President Edgar Lungu is ostensibly anti-intellectual. The president will host just about anybody. But he will not host the University of Zambia Management or Union. Davies Mwila is the PF chief administrative officer. Mumbi Phiri his deputy. Given Lubinda is marshalling the constitutional amendment process. Tutwa Ngulube is the party’s foremost legal mind. Bowman Lusambo, aka, President of Lusaka, has been tasked consecutively with overseeing two of the country’s most economically vital provinces, the Copperbelt and Lusaka. Davies Mwila has publicly shown contempt for educated people because they ask about inflation and exchange rates under the PF. Exaltation of religion and religious ‘solutions’ to the country’s crises is the icing on the cake of the PF’s anti-intellectualism.

The PF have a very haphazard approach to HE and UNZA and CBU have been badly hit; from the toxicity of Professor Nkandu Luo to the incoherence of Dr Brian Mushimba. CBU and UNZA are in purgatory with no redemption in sight. If the little money for HE can be shuttled to better funded ministries, it’s clear HE is not top priority for the PF. Even when the equation is straightforward: If the public universities are not funded adequately and on time, lecturers will not teach and research well. If lecturers are not teaching and researching optimally, the students are being half-baked. If the students are being half-baked, society will stagnate. We end up in Thomas Hobbes’ chaotic state of nature in which life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”. And under the PF we have tasted this life, but it could get worse or better!

Way forward

UNZA and CBU do not need privatisation to flourish. That’s cynical and reckless. They need government political will, a sensible opposition, an alert civil society, a concerned public, and courageous intellectuals. Mushimba should calm down and not try to be populist with HE. With his entire HE team, he needs to visit UNZA, CBU and get a first-hand impression. Talk to management, staff, and students earnestly. Stop sending PF party functionaries to pontificate about HE, demean professors, and issue threats to academics.

Appoint managers not based on political correctness but professional women and men with managerial or corporate pedigree, acumen, and clout. Ability to dissect mosquitoes, classify books, split atoms, sequence genes, analyse data, or philosophise does not translate automatically into managerial competence that UNZA/CBU needs direly. Councils must not be an employment opportunity but a service opportunity. Appoint service-seekers and not job-seekers; people who have made it in life and not those who want to make it quick via auctioning and syphoning public varsities.

Through well-researched questions in parliament, op-eds, tweets, the opposition can make the government deliver better in HE and everywhere. Or show that they are a viable alternative come 2021. So far no opposition is indicating they have a tangible roadmap for HE. HE needs a paradigm shift and not necessarily regime change. Regime change without paradigm shift is merely a chimera. What’s your plan to bring UNZA global ranking into 1000s and CBU into 2000s? The opposition here are challenged.

Fuente de la Información:

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UNICEF: La generación de jóvenes mejor preparadas sigue sufriendo violencia y discriminación


Dos décadas y media después de una conferencia histórica sobre los derechos de las mujeres, se ha logrado reducir el abandono escolar entre las jóvenes. Sin embargo, millones de adolescentes continúan siendo víctimas de violencia sexual y de género y sus voces siguen siendo ignoradas en la toma de decisiones.

Nunca ha habido tantas mujeres jóvenes en las aulas. Y, sin embargo, las adolescentes siguen sufriendo violencia y discriminación, alerta un informe de UNICEF, Plan Internacional y ONU Mujeres.

Más de dos décadas después de que el mundo declarara que “los derechos de las mujeres son derechos humanos”, solo se han cumplido parte de las promesas.

Se ha conseguido reducir en 79 millones la cifra de chicas que abandonan la escuela. De hecho, ellas tienen hoy más posibilidades de acudir a la secundaria que los varones. Sin embargo, estas jóvenes siguen sin tener las habilidades y el apoyo que necesitan para poder tomar decisiones sobre su futuro, vivir seguras y con dignidad.

En 2016, un 70% de las víctimas de tráfico de personas para explotación sexual fueron mujeres y niñas. Una de cada 20 jóvenes de entre 15 y 19 años -unos 13 millones en  el mundo- ha sido víctima de una violación, una de las formas más violentas de abuso sexual.

“Acceder a la educación no es suficiente. Tenemos que cambiar el comportamiento y la actitud de la gente hacia las jóvenes. La verdadera igualdad solo llegará cuando todas las jóvenes estén a salvo de la violencia, sean libres para ejercer sus derechos y sean capaces de disfrutar de igualdad de oportunidades en la vida”, aseguró la directora del Fondo de las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia (UNICEF), Henrietta Fore

El informe, “Una Nueva Era para las Jóvenes: Haciendo Balance de 25 años de Progresos”, se publica coincidiendo con la campaña Generación Igualdad , que celebra el 25 aniversario de la Declaración de Beijing para avanzar los derechos de las mujeres y niñas.

“Las adolescentes sufren niveles de discriminación más altos como resultado de su edad y su género y siguen siendo marginadas en sus comunidades y en los espacios de toma de decisiones, permaneciendo invisibles para las políticas de los Gobiernos”, explicó la directora ejecutiva de Plan Internacional, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, que aseveró que “empoderar” a estas chicas aporta un triple beneficio social: para las jóvenes hoy, para las mujeres adultas que serán y para la próxima generación de niños.

“Si no entendemos esto y acabamos con la discriminación que sufren las chicas, tenemos muy pocas posibilidades de lograr los ambiciosos objetivos de igualdad de género de la Agenda 2030”, añadió.

Mientras las mujeres y niñas tengan que dedicar tres veces más tiempo y energía que los hombres al cuidado de la casa, las oportunidades para pasar de la escuela a buenos trabajos van a estar fuera de su alcance, señaló la directora ejecutiva de ONU Mujeres, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.



Las chicas corren más riesgo de sufrir violencia en las aulas, en casa, en su comunidad y en internet.

El informe señala que el matrimonio infantil y la mutilación genital siguen minando las vidas y el potencial de millones de niñas. Cada año, 12 millones son forzadas a contraer matrimonio y 4 millones corren el riesgo de ser mutiladas.

El porcentaje de mujeres jóvenes que ven bien que un hombre golpee a su esposa es igual que el de hombres jóvenes.

Mala salud

El reporte también saca a la luz problemas de salud para las jóvenes que eran impensables hace 25 años. A medida que la globalización ha transformado las dietas tradicionales, ha aumentado el consumo de comida rápida procesada y bebidas azucaradas. Esto ha hecho que la incidencia de sobrepeso entre niñas y jóvenes de 5 a 19 años se haya duplicado entre 1995 y 2016, pasando de un 9% a un 17%. Hoy hay 155 millones de chicas con sobrepeso, frente a 75 millones en 1995.

Las chicas también están más expuestas a contraer enfermedades de transmisión sexual. Hoy, 970.000 adolescentes de entre 10 y 19 años viven con VIH, frente a 740.000 en 1995. Ellas representan tres de cada cuatro nuevos contagios.

Enfermedades mentales

© UNICEF-Estey

Los últimos 25 años también han traído nuevas preocupaciones sobre la salud mental de las jóvenes, en parte, por el uso excesivo de las nuevas tecnologías.

El suicidio es hoy la segunda causa de muerte entre adolescentes de 15 a 19 años, solo superada por problemas durante la maternidad.


El informe pide actuar en varias áreas:

  • Celebrar y aumentar las oportunidades para jóvenes de todos los orígenes, dándoles voz y escuchando sus opiniones e ideas sobre sus cuerpos, comunidades, educación y futuro.
  • Aumentar las inversiones para que las chicas tengan las capacidades necesarias para la cuarta revolución industrial.
  • Acabar con la violencia de género, el matrimonio infantil y la mutilación genital.
  • Invertir para tener datos desagregados por edad y sexo en áreas como la violencia de género, la adquisición de capacidades, nutrición y salud mental.


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Huawei y Zambia firman acuerdo para promover educación inteligente

África/Zambia/09-02-2020/Autor(a) y Fuente: Spanish. xinhuanet. com

El gigante de telecomunicaciones chino Huawei firmó este miércoles un acuerdo con el gobierno de Zambia con el objetivo de promover el uso de la tecnología moderna en las instituciones de enseñanza superior.

El programa Educación Inteligente tiene el objetivo de ofrecer soluciones de aprendizaje integrales a los estudiantes que usen tecnología moderna para prepararlos completamente para un mundo que cambia rápidamente.

El ministro de Educación Superior, Brian Mushimba, dijo que Educación Inteligente ofrece un cambio de paradigma único en la manera en que los estudiantes acceden a la educación y que Zambia no debe ser dejada atrás en el uso de tecnologías digitales en la provisión de materiales de aprendizaje.

«El estatus actual de Educación Inteligente en Zambia y donde tenemos que estar es lo que ha necesitado esta asociación estratégica con un gigante de la tecnología como Huawei que tiene una vasta experiencia en la construcción de plataformas de Educación Inteligente para las instituciones de aprendizaje en todo el mundo», indicó.

De acuerdo con él, la esencia del acuerdo es ampliar la cooperación para garantizar el aprendizaje inteligente para todos los estudiantes en todo el país a fin de garantizar que el pueblo de Zambia no se quede atrás.

Anthony Yu, director gerente de Huawei Zambia dijo que su compañía está comprometida a ayudar a las universidades en Zambia a mejorar la provisión de aprendizaje mediante el uso de tecnología.

Indicó que la compañía utilizará su vasta experiencia en la tecnología para ayudar a las universidades a encontrar espacio en la revolución de la tecnología de la información y la comunicación.


Imagen: Gerd Altmann en Pixabay

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Zambia’s education curriculum is rigid- Education PS

Africa/ Zambia/ 26.08.2019/ Source:


General Education Permanent Secretary Jobbicks Kalumba says the country’s current education curriculum is rigid and not favorable to the career needs of Zambians.

Dr. Kalumba said most subjects offered are not compatible with what the pupils want to do in future.He said there is urgent need to transform the curriculum to ensure it becomes relevant to career paths of children.

Dr. Kalumba said the educational reforms being implemented are meant to improve education standards and that the PF government has pro poor policies. He stated that reduction in school fees will ensure all Zambians have access to education.

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We ignore our children’s future

By: Mail & Guardian.

Beyond all the noise — the politics and the Twitter spats between politicians — are South Africans who are grappling with serious difficulties and few people are paying attention to their plight.

This week, the Mail & Guardian visited the area near Weenen in KwaZulu-Natal. This is where Sahlumbe village is situated. It’s a village that has been grappling with the violent behaviour of schoolboys who fight dangerously among each other on school grounds and turn these battles into impi yezigodi (faction fights).
The parents were forced to take the hard decision of shutting down Sahlumbe High School for three months. This gave them time to put their heads together to find solutions for the fighting culture among learners that is slowly eating away the good record of the school — the matric pass rate has dropped from 96.30% in 2002 to 32.6% last year.

The school was closed because of children fighting. Let that sink in. In those three months young people, whose only ticket out of that village is education, were starved of it. They loitered on the streets of their village with no sense of purpose. This is three months they will never get back.

The KwaZulu-Natal department of education has essentially washed its hands of this, saying that there is little they can do to intervene in that situation. The school was finally reopened last month, at the start of the third term. But parents, schoolchildren and teachers are on edge; they don’t know when the war will start again.

Have we become a society that is so hardened that we no longer care about the future of our children? Do we no longer care about the marginalised and disadvantaged? Are we willing to watch children kill each other over nonsensical things and we don’t even make noise about it?

Government officials always say that education is a societal issue and that when there is violence at schools those involved need to come together to find lasting solutions. But the people of Sahlumbe are alone in this fight. They have come together as parents and relied on their inkosi for guidance to try to bring stability to the school. The provincial department could bring in social workers to try to understand what issues these learners are dealing with. The department of community safety could also intervene.

Instead, the provincial education department held one imbizo with parents and then drove away, leaving no lasting solutions behind.

Adults also need to do better. It’s true that the violence that plays out at Sahlumbe High and other schools mirrors what is happening in society. When parents use violence to address problems, children do the same in the schoolyard.

When we do react to this kind of thing, it is after the fact. This year it was to a learner who was killed by another child at a Johannesburg school. But learners have been killing each other at least as far back as 2011 in KwaZulu-Natal villages in alleged faction fights.

Why have we not been outraged by that? And why have we not found ways to interrogate this phenomenon in the province and nip it in the bud?

History will judge us harshly for being preoccupied with the battles between elites when our children — the future of this country — perish in front of our eyes.

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Zambia and UNICEF partner to introduce mobile teaching services

Africa/ Zambia/ 10.04.2019/ Source:

Zambia is set to introduce mobile teaching services, to provide education services to children in remote areas lacking teachers and education facilities, African Daily Voice has learnt.

This was recently disclosed by the Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary, Jobbicks Kalumba when he addressed teachers in Kapiri Mposhi District during his interaction in the area.

According to Kalumba, the mobile education services will require teachers to set camp in particular areas lacking education services, in order to broaden access to education in the country.

“The ministry has already initiated discussions with cooperating partners that include United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in order to actualize the initiative,” said Kalumba.

“This initiative is one way of making children especially those that are in areas where we do not have presence and where there are inadequate numbers of teachers to equally access quality education. We will engage teachers who will be specifically employed to carry out mobile teaching services in various schools countrywide.”

Kalumba also revealed that his ministry will next year introduce subject specialisation among primary school teachers, to limit the number of subjects that each teacher will have to teach.

“The ministry is trying to get away from a situation where primary school teachers are compelled to teach over nine different subjects, from grade one to seven, which is creating an overload, thereby making them ineffective and inefficient.

“Primary School Teacher Specialization Policy will afford teachers enough time to prepare lessons, assess pupils and institute remedial measures to help learners having problems in a particular subject.

“It is not practical that a teacher should prepare lesson plans in nine subjects and because of this teachers at primary level are presenting work plans which are not genuine because they have to do that in nine subjects…. this is just compromising the delivery of education in the country and we should reform the system,” added Kalumba.

He further underlined that the policy will not require any resources to be rolled-out adding that affected teachers will be written to be assigned specific subjects they will be teaching.

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Dreams of the daughters: how a school in Zambia is tackling education for girls

By: Julia Rampen. 

George Mumbi lives in rural northern Zambia, where umbrella-like trees cast shadows on the red earth and there are few roads. The unusual thing about George is that he sent his daughter to secondary school. In Zambia, high schools charge fees, and in George’s community of subsistence farmers most families plough what money they have into educating their sons. But George’s daughter was among those teenage girls who set off from their homes in the bush and began the long journey to boarding school.

Parents in rural districts often prefer their children to live on campus, rather than walk several hours a day or rent alone near the school. They have less control over the journey to boarding school itself. In Kasama, a city in northern Zambia, trains packed with students can be delayed for hours or even overnight. It was on one of these journeys to school that George’s daughter became pregnant. “That’s why she dropped out of school,” he explained, through a translator.

“If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” In the past two decades, this Ghanaian proverb has become the blueprint for international aid. The commitment to girls’ primary education was enshrined in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. The UK’s Department for International Development runs the largest global fund dedicated to girls’ education. The charity Campaign for Female Education has produced research showing that for every year a girl is educated at secondary level, her earnings go up, her chances of contracting HIV go down and she will marry later. And if donors are still not persuaded, there’s the promise that she will “resist gender-based violence and discrimination, and change her community from within”.

The message is an irresistible blend of pragmatism and feminism. But while in Zambia most girls receive a basic education, fewer than half go on to secondary school. The biggest issue is fees. But even when this obstacle is removed, there are still additional challenges for girls.

I recently visited Peas Kampinda Secondary School, a short drive outside the sleepy town of Kasama. The school is the result of a partnership between the educational charity Peas (Promoting Equality in African Schools) and the Zambian government. When parents in the local area heard that there was to be a free high school, which would also serve lunch, the prospect sounded so good that they worried there was a catch.

At Peas Kampinda, girls are treated equally. The student body is 51 per cent female, including a cohort who board on campus. But nevertheless, teachers at Peas are aware that expectations are different at home. One girl used to turn up late, while her brother appeared on time. “She was given extra housework compared to the boy,” said Chola Kunda, one of the school’s female teachers, smartly dressed in a black skirt, white blouse and earrings. “After talking to the parents, the situation has changed. That girl is now coming to school on time.” Not only that, but the girl’s parents now ask the brother to clean the house as well. “There’s gender equality in the home,” Chola told me.

Girls who rent rooms nearby face a different kind of challenge: stigma from the locals. “They perceive them as prostitutes,” Chola said. Again, the school intervened, holding meetings with the community to encourage acceptance of the girls.

A girl’s future is even more likely to be set off kilter through teenage pregnancy. At Kampinda, during a student debate, I watched teenage girls stand up in front of a hundred of their peers and argue against sex education in schools. “When a person starts learning about sex, they are going to be concentrating on that subject,” one girl railed. Both sides, though, seemed passionate about the same issue: preventing teenage pregnancies. “No wonder we have poverty in our country,” one defender of sex education lamented. “Because of early marriages and teen pregnancies.”

Zambia is a deeply Christian country, and it is rare to see a school or municipal building that lacks a framed portrait of Jesus. This makes it harder to carry out simple intitiatives such as distributing contraceptives. Legal abortion is difficult to access, and Claire Albrecht, a local aid worker, has encountered many girls who have turned to traditional medicine rather than drop out of school. But such methods are risky. “There was a girl in a village where we stayed. It was her third time, and she died.”

Schools such as Peas Kampinda have had success encouraging young mothers to return to education. But for some girls, dropping out seems the easy option. “I went to school when bullying was at its peak,” Chola recalled. It was an entrenched system that she described as “hell. A lot of people left school because of it.”

But Chola’s older sister was paying for the fees. Having frequently been pulled out of school herself to take care of her siblings, she urged Chola to stick with it. Now 32, Chola is a strong advocate of the Peas child protection policy. “A teacher in this school is very empowered and concerned about protecting children in school,” she said. There is also zero tolerance of corporal punishment.

In the playground at Kampinda, meanwhile, the girls in which so much hope is invested eat their lunch, laugh about boys and ask me questions. “I want to be a surgeon,” one said. “I want to be a lawyer,” another told me. “I want to be a pirate,” a third said with a smile. The girls, mostly boarders, are glad to be at a school where the older years can’t force them to do chores and the teachers won’t beat them up. They have dreams of travelling after school, to neighbouring countries, even to London. “There is a lot of housework [at home], so it’s better we stay here,” said Patience Kabwe, one of the boarders. “We don’t have much time to do that – it’s just half an hour of sweeping. Most of the time we spend studying.”

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