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The Ministry of Justice hosted the Ministry of Higher Education and its stakeholders as part of internal consultations on the Higher Education Amendment Bill of 2020 on Thursday, 18th June, 2020, at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.

The internal consultation meeting of the Bill was the prologue to the Bill being submitted to the Legislative Committee of Cabinet.

The Amendment Bill, which has already passed through three (3) comprehensive consultative meetings with all stakeholders around the country, is intended to address the shortcomings in the current Higher Education Act No. 4 of 2013.

Represented at the meeting were the Higher Education Authority’s (HEA), the Zambia Qualifications Authority (ZAQA), University of Zambia (UNZA), University of Lusaka (UNILUS), Zambian Open University, and Evelyn Hone College of applied Arts and Commerce, amongst those that were invited.

 

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Higher Education Minister, Honourable Dr. Brian Mushimba, MP., has announced a cautious approach to the reopening of all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), both private and public, from 8th June, 2020.

The Honourable Minister was speaking today when he hosted a multisectoral press briefing at the Ministry of Higher Education in Lusaka with the Ministry of Health, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU), the Ministry of General Education, and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services.

In his remarks, Dr. Mushimba stressed that the reopening was applicable to all Public and Private Universities and Colleges, and that it will be implemented with strict adherence to COVID-19 regulations on social distancing, washing of hands, masking and avoidance of unnecessary gatherings.

“Opening of Universities and Colleges will be implemented in a phased approach subject to readiness (of the HEI) to resume classes,” he said. “In the first phase, final year graduating students and those in final exam classes will resume classes.”

Dr. Mushimba stated that the phased manner that will be used will take into consideration the different circumstances and levels of preparedness of each HEI. This will allow graduating students to be the first to commence lessons and subsequently write their examinations based on calendars approved by their respective Senates.

However, the Minister of Higher Education stated that foreign graduating students will continue with e-learning and their exams will be conducted online.

Figure 2 Mrs. Siame invites Dr. Mushimba to address the media as Mr. Malupenga looks on.

The Minister of Higher Education further stated that before any HEI could be allowed to be reopened, it would need to be inspected and certified ready by the appropriate authorities. Further, HEIs that were used as Quarantine Centres for COVID-19 would require to be adequately disinfected before they were certified ready to receive students back on their campuses.

The Minister further outlined the following key guidelines that will be required for any HEI to be certified to reopen, amongst other measures by appropriate authorities:

  1. Temperature checks at entry gates;
  2. Provision of hand washing facilities at all entrances of hostels, lecture rooms, labs, administration buildings, etc;
  3. Restriction of students two (2) students per room in Hostels and no squatting will be permitted;
  4. Restriction of visitors on campus;
  5. Social clubs and amenities will be closed;
  6. Very strong peer-to-peer monitoring;
  7. Provision of a check-in and check-out register in all Hostels;
  8. Regular inspections of hostels to ensure compliance; and,
  9. Regular cleaning, disinfection of buildings and surrounding areas.