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Sunday, 4 April 2010

Has two decades of MMD rule delivered on education?

Yes. According to George Chisanga writing in the government marshalled paper. Its unfortunate that the article reads like an electoral spin. In many respects its an opportunity missed because reading Mr Chisanga's verbiage, properly reconstructed could, in theory, provide some credible, albeit shaky, defence of the MMD's 20 year record on education. It is that 20 year record that Zambians should examine in 2011 for all sectors :

How MMD Government improved education, George Chisanga, Times of Zambia, Commentary :

My God-given ability to control my anger saved me from getting into trouble for assault when a person who gave me such a wrong response to the question: “How much do you think teachers get for a salary every month?” At that time, a teacher’s salary should have been between K600,000 and K800,000. I imagined how many others could be receiving such kind of answers to innocent questions. In the same way, so many could be having unfounded hate for the working Government of the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), which has tried its best to do what it can for the benefit of all Zambians, including teachers.
Today, there is no single teacher whose salary is less than K1.5 million in Zambia – and some go as far as K2.4 million per month. The Government even gives every teacher housing allowance, depending on his/ her salary scale. Other teachers get responsibility allowance, some extra-duty allowance. And those in the countryside, there is rural hardship allowance or remote allowance. In other words, most teachers get at least two or three of these allowances. As a result of this, people should begin to say something to thank the Government.

While the Government has introduced these benefits, what has the teacher done? Nothing more than refusing all these allowances in preference to town life, where these allowances are non-applicable! Should the Government be blamed then? The MMD Government has been encouraging people to further their education, no wonder so many teachers have in the recent past flocked to the University of Zambia (UNZA) and the Zambia Open University. For your own information, any additional paper to your qualifications earns you an increase on your take-home pay. And if any teacher, out of his/her own will, has not utilised this chance, are we being fair by blaming our hard-working Government? I say NO! And a big NO!

A 2005 Challenge Magazine, volume 17 on page three, states that most Zambian teachers live on pop-corns for breakfast. But hey, give me a break and be factual! Truth is, all teachers who are in such situations have put themselves there. How? The well-meaning Government has allowed all teachers to borrow from banks and other financial institutions like Blue, Bayport, Capital Solutions, among others, and what has the teacher done? Nothing more than abusing these facilities by dubiously over-borrowing! Who gets the blame for this? A well-meaning Zambian would blame the teacher, but the opposite of a well-meaning Zambian, that is, the opportunist, a sadist, will be quick to blame the Government. It is important to get facts right before saying hills and mountains against the Government on the welfare of teachers in the country.

One issue that has been outstanding is the fixed-band allowance. So much has been said against the Government in the past. Now that the Government has honoured its promise, why are all people silent? The Government has so many other areas of concern as education is not the only sector. Teachers are studying. Teachers are driving. Teachers are running businesses. Teachers have bought and built houses.

What about deployment of teachers? If you are a Zambian, you will agree with me that of late, teachers have been deployed without staying at home for long. Furthermore, have you ever taken time to visit secondary or high schools? Did you pick on the bad side of that institution or the good side of it?

A thankful heart receives more blessings than one, which is always wasting all its pumps finding baseless faults to criticise. Thank God for the current leadership, which is selfless but willing to serve the citizenry. These are real developments that we ought to thank the Government for! What about schools that have been constructed or being constructed from the scratch? Are we going to pretend that we do not know a thing about them? It is not fair!
Commend to encourage and motivate for more!

For so many years, Zambia has had two universities only. Why then does the MMD Government not get commended for the prevailing situation now? Let’s move round the country: Mulungushi University has joined the bandwagon. What has happened to Nkrumah College of Education? What about Copperbelt College of Education? What about the upgrading of Kitwe College of Education, Livingstone College of Education? All these are now offering degree programmes! What an achievement for President Rupiah Banda and the MMD Government!

The Government acknowledges further that on its own alone, it cannot do everything, hence, encouraging the private sector. We have St Eugene University, Northrise University, Catholic University, and the Zambia Open University, all of which run according to the Government regulations.

In all honesty, are we not aware of these institutions? Have they just dropped from Heaven? Have they been around all along? Get to Kabwe Trades, Lusaka Trades, Nortec, Lukashya Trades. Funding to these institutions has been superb. User fees paid by students are put to good use because of Government policy. What else do we need in order to give credit to this Government. What about the lecturers? Can some one tell me a college or university without lecturers in any subject or module?

People, the devil you know is better than the angel you do not know!


  1. Prof. Kyambalesa has written in response:

    MMD Has Failed to Provide Educational Opportunities for All?
    From: Henry Kyambalesa (
    Sent: Mon 4/05/10 12:27 AM

    MMD Has Failed to Provide Educational Opportunities for All

    I wish to comment on the article which appeared in the Times of Zambia of April 4, 2010 under the title “How MMD Government [Has] Improved Education” by George Chisanga.

    It is shameful that both Mr. Chisanga and the Times of Zambia can publish such trash in a newspaper. Firstly, the title of the article should have been about teachers because there is nothing in it that addresses the issue of education in Zambia during the 19 years the MMD has been in power.

    Secondly, Mr. Chisanga is most probably not a journalist because all the verbiage he has published in the newspaper is based on his own opinions rather than a sampling of teachers’ views about the adequacy of their conditions of service with respect to their salaries and allowances.

    Thirdly, he has alleged that funding to Kabwe Trades, Lusaka Trades, Nortec, and Lukashya Trades has been superb. Would students, faculty and administrators in these institutions honestly agree with him?

    And, among other empty claims, he has cited schools which have been constructed or being constructed from the scratch as one of the highlights of MMD’s quest to improve education in the country. Well, many of these schools have been constructed with funding from donor countries!

    My soul bleeds to read such trash being peddled in government-controlled news media. Does Mr. Chisanga think that Zambians are fools who cannot notice the rot in Zambia’s educational system? If his article represents MMD’s view about education in Zambia, then I do not see why any Zambian would want to vote for MMD candidates in 2011 because MMD’s failure to deliver anything of substance in all important areas of human endeavor actually affects every citizen irrespective of their political affiliation.

    During the UNIP era, I do not remember seeing school-age children begging on the streets, or selling all kinds of wares in town centers around the country. The blame for this phenomenon falls squarely on the shoulders of the MMD government for its failure to provide adequately for the educational needs of our children.

    Since the MMD came to power, we have seen tens of thousands of Grade 7 and Grade 9 students being spilled onto the streets every year. We need to seriously consider the prospect of extending educational opportunities to all Zambia’s children because they are the jewels of our Motherland. “Imiti ikula e mpanga,” a Bemba maxim tells us. It is, therefore, surprising that we have continued to pay lip-service to the educational needs of our country’s youth.

    But even in the face of such obvious failure, President Rupiah Banda and Vice President George Kunda are on the campaign trail for re-election in 2011 without any shame!

    There is a lot MMD leaders need to do in this endeavor between now and September 2011 in order to improve their chances of winning. Among other things, they need to abolish examination fees and Grades 7 and 9 elimination examinations, and to provide for free education through Grade 12 as an initial step in making education more accessible to all Zambians.

    Besides, high-school graduates who would obtain a Division 1 should be automatically awarded scholarships upon being accepted at any Zambian college or university. All other high-school graduates and working Zambian men and women wishing to pursue further studies should be granted with low-interest loans upon being accepted into classroom-based or correspondence-based programs of study offered within Zambia.

  2. (Continued...)

    Loan recipients who would graduate with “Distinction” should be excused of 75% of their debt obligations, while those who would graduate with “Merit” should be absolved of 50% of their debt obligations. And all college and university graduates who would sign contracts to work in the teaching, healthcare or agricultural professions within Zambia for at least 4 years should be absolved of 100% of their debt obligations.

    Apart from government loans, they should encourage commercial banks and other financial institutions operating in Zambia to consider lending for education as part of their business. The Indo-Zambia Bank students’ loan scheme launched at Mulungushi University in April 2009 is a good start in this endeavor.

    To accommodate primary school leavers in secondary schools, as well as continuing Grade 9 students, they need to take the following measures: (a) provide for immediate expansion of facilities at secondary schools which do not currently have extra space for Grades 8 and 10 classes; (b) allow interested secondary school teachers destined for retirement to delay their retirements, as well as hire more of the trained teachers who are currently unemployed; and (c) step up enrolments in training programs for secondary school teachers by at least 5%

    There is a need to make a sustained effort to cater for the basic needs of the educational system, including: (a) schools and classrooms that are adequately equipped for both teaching and learning; (b) qualified, self-motivated and well-paid teachers or lecturers in every classroom; and (c) competent school administrators on competitive conditions of service, and adequate office supplies and fixtures.

    Funding for education and other essential public sectors can be sourced partly from abolishing some of the top level sinecures in government and retire the holders of such sinecures early with full benefits. A lot of material and financial resources can be saved in the long run by taking such a measure, including salaries and allowances, office furniture and fixtures, buildings, automobiles, gasoline, utilities, telephone expenses, and so forth.

    Also, there is a need to go through government expenditures line by line, program by program, agency by agency, department by department, and ministry by ministry in order to eliminate unnecessary application of public funds.

    Moreover, the government needs to reduce taxes and interest rates so that individuals and businesses can keep more of their earnings for investment and consumption and, in the process, stimulate economic activities and job creation. The new businesses and employees would eventually expand the tax base by contributing to tax revenues.

    The people are tired of government leaders who talk the talk without making any tangible or serious effort to walk the walk, so to speak.

    Henry Kyambalesa

  3. If you want to know how good the education system is just check where the politicians send their children. When I was in Primary I was in the same class as the son of the minister of education. Now they would never dream of sending their kids to Government schools and yet they think its good enough for everyone else. Also education those days, though limited in availability was free. Now the poorest stop schooling because they lack fees or shoes or uniforms. What a waste of talent and potential. South Korea says that every year added to basic education adds 3% to GDP. Putting every child in Zambia through grade 12 would add 15% to GDP. Also we need more non academic education for those not academically gifted. We need good artisans - plumbers, mechanics, carpenters etc. Good education would eliminate unemployment and hunger and poverty so the fact that we still have these tells us that we have not yet reached the goal.
    R. Henson


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