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Friday, 16 July 2010

Lazy intellectuals..

The problem I have with Clive Chirwa's comments on the constitutional making process is that they appear not thought through. Not just this comment, but also this one :
The education system will only improve if the Constitution promises the people it is written for in stone that the nation will provide adequate tools for the very best of edification. I urge the Constitution to include a national library that will collect books, education and historical materials for all Zambians. The national library will therefore be the epicentre of academic excellence. It will allow scholars to attend and read and will loan reading materials to any Zambian around the country. All developed countries have this central reservoir of knowledge that facilitates the education of its people.
Can anyone really tell me that this issue belongs in the constitution? Is this not a policy question? But even when Chirwa has the right idea, his explanatory power lets him down. Consider this comment to the NCC on presidential degree clauses :
The call for a degree clause is in my opinion not correct. The reasons are that Zambia has an extremely small educated population. Therefore to ask leaders of the future to have degree qualifications while the government does not provide adequate education for the majority is not only being too elitist but very undemocratic and against human rights. In a democratic society, this should not be part of a Constitution and should be re-assessed and revoked from the document. At current numbers of educated Zambians, I will suggest that leaders must be able to read and write plus have a minimum of secondary education. Many degree holders reject politics and do not want to be associated with back knifing. Therefore the education clause should be deleted from the draft. Vision, charisma, good governance are perhaps more important than a degree qualification. If the President has a degree by default that is fine. If not, it shouldn’t become a hindrance for one to be a good and honest President.

Okay, so he agrees with my conclusion that the degree clause is the height of folly, but then he fails to substantiate properly. To say that we should not have the degree because of we have an extremely small educated population is a weak argument because it suggests the criteria is based on a sizable number of graduates. But what proportion is enough to have a minimum degree qualification? Also on what philosophical basis should we link the education criteria to government provision of education? How are we to square this with the idea with his other idea that that the NCC clause is  "against human rights"?  If the issue is about human rights then it would be wrong even if 99% of Zambians had degrees and the 1% didn't. Clearly he has not considered that, hence he goes to suggest that leaders must be able to read and write plus have a minimum of secondary education. But how representative is such a President when 32% of Zambians can't read or write? Are we not discriminating against them since the adult segment of that 32% will never get a chance despite being tax payers and full blooded Zambians like everyone else? And what does he mean by human rights any way? On what basis are they to be grounded in the Zambian context?

Its not my intention to pick on Chirwa - although when we all put ourselves in the public domain we invite deeper scrutiny. It's just that he has come to represent the lazy intellectual. How I wish that people like him can emulate the likes of Senior Chief Mwamba and Henry Kyambalesa. Individuals who are able to think and analyse issues at a deeper level. I hope we can see better contributions from Chirwa and other would-be saviours of our future. We need better contributions from Chirwa. Zambia needs him and others with national leadership aspirations to elevate the quality of their contributions on national matters. There has never been a better time to do this than now. 

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