The Management of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on Wednesday, 4th December, 2019, met the Founding President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, at his home in State Lodge as part of data collection for the inaugural State of Higher Education report.
HEA is mandated by the Higher Education Act No. 4 of 2013 Part II Section 6 (2) (b) (ii) to cause to be published an annual report on the state of higher education in Zambia. As such, the Authority is currently compiling the inaugural report, which will only represent a full picture of the state of higher education in Zambia through a retrospective examination of how far higher education has come. Thus, this makes the input of the Founding President of paramount importance.
At the moment of independence, Zambia only had 100 Zambia graduates and, as such, there was need to train the Zambian population to be able to take up the workforce. Thus, the Founding President governed a nation with few university graduates, posing challenges which will be highlighted in the State of Higher Education report.
In receiving the delegation, the Founding President quipped that at 95 years old, he wondered if the HEA delegation could still learn anything from him.
The Founding President praised HEA’s Director General, Professor Stephen Simukanga, for his commitment to higher education and laid a challenge on HEA’s Management, Staff and Interns to learn from the Director General and then pass the knowledge to the next generation as the Founding President had also endeavoured to do.
Figure 2 The Founding President receives the Director General and imparts a blessing on him.
Leading the delegation, Professor Simukanga stated that the vision that the Founding President had when he envisioned higher education in Zambia had grown with a multitude of smaller Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) around complimenting the larger public HEIs, thus, affording greater opportunities for access to higher education by Zambians.
“Your Excellency, we have seven (7) public universities and 55 private universities, with the big ones being the University of Zambia (UNZA) with the about 25,000 students, and the Copperbelt University having about the same, around 20,000 students,” Professor Simukanga said. “Mulungushi University, where there the Rock of Authority is, has now become a university with about 10,000 students.”
The Director General expressed happiness for being warmly received by the Founding President, fondly reminiscing that he had greatly benefited from the free education policy that the United National Independence Party (UNIP) instituted.
“Your Excellency, in my family we were nine (9) children, so we greatly benefited from free education as we went to primary and secondary schools for free, including university,” he said. “So, we are also trying to give back through the work that we do in higher education as you gave to us.” The inaugural report on the State of Higher Education in Zambia will be published in 2020.
Figure 3 The Director General and the Founding President have a conversation.
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