Govt to transform Bursaries Committee to Loans Board

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SOURCE- $Times_of_Zambia-Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Minister, John Phiri, says government will transform the Bursaries Committee in public universities into a Loans Board which will be over-seeing the revolving fund. 


And Government has regretted the death of Musanka Makwamba who allegedly committed suicide after she was denied a University of Zambia (UNZA) bursary.


Dr Phiri says government is in the process of operationalising the loan scheme and is committed to providing a bursary scheme for tertiary education for all students who qualify to public institutions of higher learning in line with government aspirations.


The minister says it is not sustainable for his ministry at the moment to sponsor all the students who get enrolled into public universities namely UNZA Main Campus, Copperbelt and Mulungushi Universities.


He was responding to a question raised by UPND Choma Central MP, Cornelius Mweetwa, who wanted to find out from government what led to the death of the first year student at UNZA on 30th September, 2014; why the Government has only provided bursaries to 2,000 first year students out of the 6,000 who have been admitted to the institution for the 2014/2015 academic year and what sustainable measures the government has taken to ensure that the University operates as a proper public university. 


Dr Phiri said government takes cognisance of the efforts of parents in prioritising education of their children.


He was quick to point out that government will endeavour to lighten the burden of parents through the provision of loan schemes especially for vulnerable students.



On the death of the first year student, it was learnt that Makwamba, a former Kabulonga Girls’ pupil, was accepted by UNZA to study for a degree in the School of Humanities and was not successful for a bursary but like most Zambians her family could not afford the tuitions and associated fees hence she took her life.


The minister said it was a wake-up call for his ministry over the demise of the student and wished the bereaved family God’s guidance during the difficult time.



On government sponsorship, Dr Phiri said government spends K25,833 on average for each sponsored university student on accommodation, meal, tuition fees and book allowances and it would cost government over K154.9 million to support all the 6000 students.



Dr Phiri thanked government for increasing allocation to the education sector but quickly challenged public universities to scale-up income generating ventures.


And Parliament heard today that the embattled Times of Zambia (ToZ) owes its workers over K8 million.


Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Poniso Njeulu, told parliament that the money is K8.5 million in salary arrears which is owed as of August, 2014.



Mr Njeulu said the collective agreement was not being abrogated by the failure to pay salaries.


The Deputy Minister, however, challenged the ToZ management and the workers to closely work together to raise the funds.


He was responding to a question raised by PF Chipili MP, Davies Mwila,   who wanted to find out how much money, in salary arrears, was owed to workers of Times of Zambia Newspapesr as of August, 2014; when outstanding salary arrears will be paid to the workers and whether the Collective Agreement has not been abrogated by the failure to pay salaries.