Government Vows to Grant Full Autonomy to TEVET Institutions

The Ministry of Technology and Science has stated that the UPND Alliance Government will work at granting full autonomy to all Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training (TEVET) Institutions in enhancing academic freedom.

The Ministry said this in a speech that was read for the Minister of Technology and Science by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Technology and Science, Dr. Brilliant Habeenzu, during the National Symposium on Academic Freedom which was held at Government Complex in Lusaka on 15th and 16th December, 2021.

“(Granting autonomy to TEVET institutions will) enable them to make independent decisions regarding their mandate of research, innovation, teaching and community service under the umbrella of academic freedom,” Dr. Habeenzu said, adding, “this is the only way we can stimulate innovation in today’s competitive world.”

The Permanent Secretary further said that the importance of creating an enabling environment for the freedom to pursue intellectual inquiry cannot be overemphasised.

“This is on account that academic freedom is also important to the larger community because it gives assurance that academics in all areas of expertise are expected to challenge what we think we know and to push the boundaries of what is known,” he said, adding, “therefore, governments, university administrations, donors should not be allowed to control the development and dissemination of knowledge even if it makes them uncomfortable.”

Dr. Habeenzu added that the New Dawn Government had the duty to recognise the role of the academia and students by inculcating the values and principles of the freedom of scholars to pursue the truth where it takes them, whether in support of, as a corrective to, current orthodoxies, and to proclaim that truth.

“In fact, I must point out that without academic freedom, various revolutions in the area of science, research and innovation would not have taken place,” he said, adding, “today, we are living in a society which is anchored on creation of knowledge and, as such, the question that arises is that where are the Zambian Academia and students in this equation?”

Dr. Habeenzu emphasised that this was critical on account that academic freedom is the foundation of university research and teaching.

“However, the freedom comes with come responsibilities and as academia, management, students, government and society at large owe each other responsibility to ensure that the academic freedom ecosystem functions optimally,” the Permanent Secretary said.

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 Permanent Secretary poses for a picture with HEA Director-General, Professor Stephen Simukanga, and ZANEC Executive Director, Mr. George Hamusunga (2-L), and members of staff at the Ministry of Technology and Science.