MP Mumbi Phiri asks RB to cancel at least one trip

PATRIOTIC Front Munali member of parliament Mumbi Phiri has asked President Rupiah Banda to forgo one trip and pay fees for the affected students at the University of Zambia (UNZA).

About 1,132 students have been withdrawn from 2010-2011 academic calendars due to non-payment of tuition fees as required by the 75 percent payment policy.

Phiri said even the money that President Banda used to pay for Amayenge Band to go and dance in Nigeria could have been used to pay for the troubled students and enable them to continue with school. She said among the students who were withdrawn, 38 paid half of their fees and were attending classes.

“So you can see that these students actually complied and some of them have remained with six months to complete. Honestly, how fair is it that one should be withdrawn?” Phiri asked.

“I am speaking as a parent and talking to parents. If that was their son, how would they feel?”

Phiri said some of the students were children to lecturers who retired as far back as 2004 and had not been paid their money, adding that it was not easy for them to pay for their children.

And Phiri disclosed that the fate of the withdrawn students had been thrown to the University Council. She said she spoke with education permanent secretary Andrew Phiri who told her that the ministry was aware about the development and had asked the council to look into the matter to see how the students could be assisted.

She said the student’s union, the University Council and the government must help the vulnerable students. Phiri also appealed to organisations that were able to sponsor such students to come in and assist.

University of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU) president Timothy Lumba charged that the withdrawal of 1,132 students from the 2010-2011 academic year reflected the government’s failure to honour its commitment and due responsibility to provide higher education.

He said what was being demonstrated by the government was a clear lack or failure of intent of political will to acknowledge that the challenges of higher education had an overall bearing on the nation and its future.

Lumba said if President Banda or education minister Dora Siliya remained quiet on statistics approved and acknowledged by the University Council, it would affirm their stance that the government had no will to address the problems at UNZA.

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