“Free Thinking is the Only Way to Pursue the Truth” – Minister of Education

Minister of Education, Honourable Mr. Douglas Syakalima, MP., has stated that free thinking is the only way to pursue the truth and to add innovations that will help societies.

Mr. Syakalima said this yesterday when he gave the Keynote Address as he officiated the opening of the National Symposium on Academic Freedom which was held at Government Complex in Lusaka from 15th and 16th December, 2021.

The Minister of Education stated that revolutions happen because the population is free to think and pursue ideas that better society. He emphasised that there was a need to appreciate the value of research and ensure that opportunities were created for scholars to conduct research freely without undue hindrance.

“Most developed countries have prospered mainly due to their investment in action research in various fields of human endeavour,” Mr. Syakalima said, adding, “therefore, for our country to achieve the desired levels of development, my government believes that we need to encourage home grown research by allowing students and academia to research and disseminate their research findings freely.”

The Honourable Minister stated that it was for this reason that it was important to promote academic freedom in Zambia’s universities and colleges, adding that these Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) needed to be supported to ensure that they use research to generate solutions to the problems and challenges that Zambia was facing.

The National Symposium was organised by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC), in collaboration with the Ministries of Education and Technology and Science, and was held under the theme, “Academic Freedom in Higher Education: Practice and Challenges.”

The Minister of Education pledged that the New Dawn Government stands for inclusive quality education that is accessible by all students in all HEIs.

“We are also aware that quality education can only thrive in universities and colleges when academic work is informed by research,” Mr. Syakalima said, adding, “therefore, academic freedom of our lecturers and students should be respected in both universities and colleges and, as such, as a Government, we would like to call upon university managements, lecturers and students to work together in promoting academic freedom in higher education institutions.”

Mr. Syakalima further stated that even under the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of the Republic of Zambia expects universities to continue with their research in order to find solutions to the pandemic and generate knowledge about mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on education.

“For example, investments in digital technologies for promoting continuity of learning at home must be informed by research if we are to have remote learning solutions that leave no one behind regardless of their abilities, gender and economic status,” he said.

The Honourable Minister emphasised that it was, therefore, important for universities to use research to come up with innovations that will provide practical solutions to the problems that the Zambian people were facing.

The Minister of Education poses for a picture with delegates of the National Symposium, including the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Technology and Science, Dr. Brilliant Habeenzu, and the Director General of the Higher Education Authority, Professor Stephen Simukanga.