THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has described as shameful government’s decision to exclude more than 4000 University of Zambia (UNZA) students from the bursaries sponsorship.
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema said the Patriotic Front (PF) government had been wasting a lot of resources on induced parliamentary by-elections at the expense of service delivery and improving the welfare of the ordinary poor Zambian.
Mr Hichilema has reiterated that the bloated PF cabinet coupled with huge presidential delegations on international trips was robbing the education sector of the much needed resources that could have been channeled to sponsoring UNZA students most of whom were from poor families.
Mr Hichilema said the UPND was still insisting that the PF government should implement its pledge of cheaper and quality education because it was their responsibility to provide such basic services.
He said the PF government should realise that the future of the young generation solely depended on education, warning that a mass of uneducated and unemployed young people on the streets was a political, social and economic time bomb.
He said most of the students in universities and other tertiary education institutions were under the age of 19 and to force them out of school at such a tender age was the worst form of irresponsibility.
Mr Hichilema said the PF government would be held accountable should anything happen to the more than 4000 UNZA students who had been excluded from the bursaries sponsorship.
He said the youths who were being denied sponsorship by government were the ones who ensured that the PF won the 2011 general elections because they were promised free education up to university level.
Mr Hichilema said the PF government had removed maize and fuel subsidies on the pledge that they would save money for social sectors such as education and health but that the ruling party was misdirecting resources to non-productive areas such as by-elections.
“Reports that the PF government has abandoned more than 4000 University of Zambia students and consigning them into the streets due to lack of money for bursaries are shameless and a manifestation of lack of priorities.
The PF government has been wasting a lot of resources on by-elections that have been induced by the greed to have the numbers in Parliament. The government has gone further to remove subsidies on maize and fuel under the guise of saving money for social sectors such as education and health.
This government will have to be held accountable for anything that is going to happen to the students as a result of their careless decision to exclude them from government sponsorship,” Mr Hichilema said.
He explained that it was the belief of the UPND that education was the best inheritance as well as an equalizer apart from being an investment and should therefore be given the priority because it was not a cost.
Mr Hichilema said it was the strong position of the UPND that education must be accessed by all children including those whose benefactors could not afford.
“In any case, an education bursary is basically a financial instrument that can be structured and arranged in any form such as a grant or a long term loan scheme that can afford children from poor families to access education. The PF government should therefore find the money for the youths at UNZA and other learning institutions. Government can do so through the supplementary budget as they had been doing in their by-elections and other wasteful expenditures,” Mr Hichilema said.