And Prof Phiri says the next government should prioritise education, adding that a weak education system will always culminate into a weak economy that will take the country down.
On Saturday, new Tanzanian President John Magufuli said 1.3 million pupils countrywide have been enrolled for primary school education as a result of the introduction of the free education policy.
Commenting on this development, Prof Phiri, who is a chancellor at the Africa Research University, said free education was possible.
He said the provision of free education was the only way Zambia could educate citizens who would develop the nation.
“Education is key in life, and serious countries like Tanzania are going in the right direction by providing free education to its people. So, as we go into this year’s elections, I urge voters to go for political parties that have a provision for free education in their manifestos,” Prof Phiri said. “I am urging the next government to take education as a matter of urgency; in terms of access and quality. If the next government won’t prioritise education, then we are not going anywhere as a country in the alleviation of poverty.
He said it was possible for a country like Zambia to come up with a policy of free education considering the nation’s population.
“Our population is not that frightening that we can’t have a free education policy. Poverty eradication will not take place in full if we don’t have serious access to quality education. So, as we go to elections, I urge whoever is going to be elected to put education as a matter of urgency,” Prof Phiri said.
“Education is a tool to poverty alleviation anywhere in the world. It is a tool to having a people that is open to ideas and even this violence we are currently having is not going to be there if people were really enlightened. Otherwise, we will be a country without direction if the next government will not take education seriously.”
He further said every nation’s economy was anchored on how its people were enlightened.
“Our economy is anchored on the quality of brains we have as a nation. So, if we don’t invest in quality brains, we will always have a shaky economy. A weak education system will always culminate into a weak economy,” said Prof Phiri. “Zambians need education as a matter of right; we need a political party that will clearly show us how serious they are with education before voting them into government.”