The University of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU) has rejected the newly introduced payment policy and the increament in tuition fees for returning students.
The union has therefore demanded that Government should withdraw the two moves immediatelly.
In a press release signed by UNZASU president Timothy Lumba and publicity secretary Mutinda Lunda, the union argues that both the increased fees and new payment system are against government policy and do not reflect the economic reality in the country.
” On 23 rd April, 2010 management released a memo notifying the students’ populace on the new payment structure which demanded that the 50% two installments payment schedule had been nullified and that a 75% initial installment had been enforced in the first semester and full payment of tuition fees (100%) would be introduced for the second semester.
“In addition management has revised the tuition fees by 25% for returning students’ in all categories; Art, science and Medicine based programmes. The new increment has also come at a time when most of our students’ have left the institution and are not aware of the new changes. With the introduction of the on-line system of registration last academic year the majority of students’ will not be able to meet these highly commercial fees as the 2010/2011 Academic year begins on 13th June this year. Our rejection of these policies is based on the following premises;
1. The historical attachment which this institution has with society and the underlying principal on which it was built as the major public university in our nation will be highly defeated by the introduction of these highly commercial fees. Given that the majority of the Zambian population is underprivileged higher education will be highly restricted to a minority few who can afford. This will only strengthen the existing elite strata where only 2% of Zambians have had access to quality university education since independence.
2. The increment is not in line with the social economic dictates in the country. 44% of enrolment at the University of Zambia is self sponsored students and majority of who are civil servants and solely depend on their meager salary to meet the cost of the tuition fees with the exception of accommodation, other non tuition fees and daily expenses. While we acknowledge the 15% increment in the average K1, 200,000 which civil servants get, it does not correlate with the 25% increment imposed by UNZA management. Of the 56% of students sponsored by Government, 75% are fully sponsored and the rest are on partial sponsorship respectively. The latter of this number mostly come from civil service homes where the same difficulties are faced.
3. The new payment policy and increased fees are not in line with Government national goals such as Education for All, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Vision 2030 which envisage an educated population as the driving force in uplifting Zambia from its poverty mire. Currently the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) has adopted the degree clause for all constitutional office bearers. Given that, should this only be a preserve for those who can afford or the elite?
4. We are also aware that the increased fees did not pass through the standard procedure of University Senate and Council approval before implementation. We are reliably informed that this was a Government directive to shift the burden of their failure or lack of intent to adequately fund this institution on the already oppressed, marginalized, underprivileged poor Zambians. This clearly demonstrates;
i. The misplacement of Government priority on education.
ii. The failure to recognize that Universities in this time and era promote economic growth as well as a tangible productive human resource.
“It can be noted therefore that society has created a hierarchy of oppression which stems from the apex of authority and trickles down to the common Zambian. We need to realize that it is high time Government became accountable to the people and promoted the good of all. The neglect of investment toward university education is a draw back on this nation, which is in dire need of professionals. Therefore any policy which does not promote access of all to education should not be promoted.” Read the press release.