Tuesday, September 10, 2013

KK counsels universities
By Allan Mulenga
Sat 17 Aug. 2013, 14:01 CAT

DR KENNETH Kaunda has advised local universities to be responsive to the changing environment. And Dr Kaunda has urged management at the University of Zambia to improve its capacity to deal with current and future challenges.

Delivering a public lecture to UNZA students at the graduation square during the first-ever open day in Lusaka yesterday, Dr Kaunda said there was need for universities locally to combine theory with vocational and holistic application.

"Just as we tried in the times of the 1960s, Zambia's universities should now be responsive to the environment of the 21st Century. To be effective, our universities must combine training and learning in theorywith vocational and holistic application. We must strengthen teaching,research, and mentoring," he said.

Dr Kaunda, who is also the first chancellor of UNZA, said the university and other educational institutions needed to be forward looking by embarking on programmes that would respond to various local and global issues.

"In this, our one world, we must both learn and give. All of us need to work together to find ways forward for UNZA and other universities," he said.

And Dr Kaunda urged management at UNZA to improve its capacity to deal with current and future challenges.

"In August 1969, at the opening of the University of Zambia library, I said: 'Let this legend of self sacrifice on the part of poor people never be forgotten by generations to come. Let it remain as inspiration to all so that every good that shall come out of this building shall be to the greater glory of the people'," he recounted.

"Now, as we start the 21st Century, the message still stands. Zambia's people are UNZA's major investors. They are stakeholders. Education is a transforming experience not only for the student but reaches out to the whole society. UNZA must continue to be a major world centre of learning."

Dr Kaunda said UNZA's challenges and current learning gaps needed to be urgently addressed.

"There is high migration of staff to neighbouring economies and abroad for better packages. There is great pressure on remaining staff to provide services. In view of the large number of eligible talented potential students, UNZA and other universities are only absorbing a limited number.Families of talented students have struggled to find funds to take into private universities and places in other countries," he said.

Dr Kaunda said poor funding at the institution had made it difficult to effectively carry out programmes.

"Economic and social change have greatly affected all areas of human endeavour. Many university programmes have slowed down or delayed because of limits in various resources," he said. Dr Kaunda bemoaned rampant work stoppages and violent students' protest at the institution.

"Aggressive protests have risen due to inadequate mechanisms for dealing with mainly resource limitations facing students and staff. Sadly, some protesting students have gone to nearby roads to destroy property and the peace of members of the public, who in fact provide tax funds to the university. We also find that there are still many staff work stoppages done to get concession and improved work conditions," he said.

Dr Kaunda called for greater partnerships between the university and the private sector.

"The flame that we carried some 50 years ago is one we now hold together with you. You must nourish the torch of knowledge. Now is your time. It is your time to prepare the university for the needs of the present. You must act now in order to prepare the future. Prepare for another 50 years.The future of the University lies with you. Right now. You, my friends, are the future," said Dr Kaunda.

And education permanent secretary Dr Patrick Nkanza said over the past four decades, UNZA had expanded significantly in scope.

Dr Nkanza said the open day was aimed at showcasing the new developments for the public to appreciate the critical role the institution had played to national development.

And UNZA council chairperson Shelly Thole revealed that the institution had embarked on acquiring land from chiefdoms as way of expanding its existing programmes. Thole commended the corporate world for making the open day a reality through various sponsorships.

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