Zambia has no university – Luo

Zambia has no university – Luo

By Golden Kunda in Kabwe

CURRENTLY, and I can say this without apology, we really do not
have an institution in Zambia that I can say with a lot of pride that this is a university, says Professor Nkandu Luo.

During a meeting with Mulungushi University lecturers, Prof Luo, the higher education minister, questioned the intellectual ability of universities in Zambia to do and move things.

“We need to start running universities as universities. At the moment, and I can say this without an apology, we really do not have an institution in Zambia where I can say with a lot of pride that this is a university and that is coming from the bottom of my heart…we have turned our universities into civil service. Even in universities, we report for work at 08:00 hours and we work until 13:00 hours then we go for lunch and we come back at two and work up to five, then we go home. Is that the way universities [are] run? Is that what you do here? Where I worked, there were times when I was in the university by six in the morning because I had to put up an experiment and the system was running up to 22:00 hours. That is how the university is run!” Prof Luo said.

“Do you know why that is the case? Because a university is where you find the human capital with intellectual ability to think and do and move things, because if you cannot do it, nobody else can do it. This is why you are called a university, that is the meaning of a university. So I’m challenging you to transform into a university.”

At Kwame Nkrumah University, Prof Luo called for an end to politicking because its time was over as leaders had been ushered into office.

“It’s like in football, Zambia versus Ghana; chwa, chwa, chwa, chwa, it’s a goal, Ghana scores. Zambia is supposed to come back here quietly and stop even talking and go back to the drawing board and start training for the next round. So politics must come to an end in our institutions. This is time for us now to continue development…I don’t know where I will be tomorrow because tomorrow President Edgar Lungu can get up and say ‘Prof Luo I’m moving you to [Ministry of] Chiefs and Traditional Affairs’ but at least he knows that he will remain President of this Republic until 2021,” Prof Luo said. “But I also know that I will remain a member of parliament for Munali Constituency, that is the only assurance that I have, anything else, none of us has any assurance. So those of us who think we should continue talking and doing whatever, we are wasting our time. What we need to be doing now is collecting ourselves. That time [of campaigns] was very exciting, if you saw me, you wouldn’t even think this is Professor; I was dancing ‘ee niba Luo chabe zoona’ until I won my election. Now it’s time for me to be minister and speak to you as a minister but also speak to you as a fellow intellectual, which I am.”

She further said some universities in Zambia would be downgraded because they do not meet the grade.

“There is not a single university in Zambia…some of them are not universities, although they are called university so, so. Some of them, during the reforms I am bringing to the Ministry, are going to be downgraded to university colleges or just polytechnics or just colleges but for those which are supposed to be universities, we unfortunately have turned them into a civil service. Time has come for a revolution so that we go back to what the universities were many years ago when the University of Zambia was established. There are very few universities in the world, maybe when they are starting or maybe if you go to the socialist countries but even there things are changing, where the government gives a 100 per cent support to the running of the university,” Prof Luo said. “This is why in universities, we all talk about academic freedom but we have in fact not used our academic freedom to build our universities, to build who we are, to actually advance the agenda for learning, intellectual ability. We have abused them for political dispensation and time has come for us to get out of the space of being politicians in a university but [instead] be academicians.”

At Kabwe Institute of Technology, Prof Luo called for change in the manner things were done to make the institution of learning a place of choice for the people.

“My ministry during the month of April is going to hire a consultant
for one month…so for one month, some of you will be invited by these directors to come and develop what I’m calling a national human resource skills development strategy for this nation so that we know what are the best skills that we should put out and part of that strategy is on how we change the attitudes of our people because that’s a skill. [In] our country, everybody thinks the ‘only way I’m gonna survive is to be employed’; there is no country that I know anywhere in the world, including America that has a
lot of money, that employs everybody,” said Prof Luo.