Closures are not the answer

The construction of new universities while existing institutions are struggling and laboring under serious infrastructure and capacity challenges should be reconsidered.

Students from the Evelyn Hone College have now resorted to patronizing the adjacent Levy Junction to relieve themselves because ablution facilities at the institution are not only inadequate but are in a deplorable condition.

The same is true of facilities at the University of Zambia. Squatting is the norm because there are not enough dormitories to accommodate all the students that require bed space. Although the university has existed for decades and its enrolment multiplied several times over the infrastructure has failed to match this expansion.

The situation at UNZA is particularly pathetic.

That is why the  closure of the Copper belt University, while being necessary, is not the final solution.  It fails to address the underlying malaise underlying the inadequacies that higher institutions of learning are facing.

The decision was correct in the context of stemming the confrontation which had the potential of spiraling into further antagonism, resulting in a situation that would have endangered life and property.

The closure however will only treat the symptom and not the underlying tragedy of capacity inadequacy.

Little wonder therefore that FDD president Edith Nawakwi has accused Copperbelt University management of conniving with landlords in Kitwe to make profits from students lacking accommodation.

She rightly feels that the action by the Copper belt University (CBU) Management to forcibly remove students sharing bed spaces from their rooms is irrational and inimical to the peace and stability of the country.

This is based on the fact that the abrupt change to the “squatting” arrangements was made midstream the term and without adequate thought over how the displaced students would be accommodated.

It is one thing to be legalistic and therefore procedurally correct but yet another to be mindful about the welfare of those who suffer the consequences of the decision taken by the management which has been accused of  being  motivated by  “some members of Management who are in a cahoots with private boarding houses owners to provide these landlords with business by the imposition of the so called “ban on squatting”

First of all it was not realistic, let alone human to have given the students 30 minutes in which to leave the campus.

Secondly the management should have known that by banning squatting they would be consigning students to the streets. This is hardly good parenthood.

Great care should have been taken to ensure that no student would be sent to the street.