FORUM for Democracy Development (FDD) president Edith Nawakwi has written to President Michael Sata to urgently intervene in the bursary crisis at the University of Zambia (UNZA) that has left more than 4000 students out of the bursary sponsorship.
And the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has charged that the Patriotic Front (PF) government has abandoned its manifesto on education by denying more than 4000 students bursaries sponsorship.
Ms Nawakwi reminded President Sata that about 3400 students have been denied access to government bursaries out of the 6000 first year students who have been enrolled for the 2014/15 academic Year.
She said with the prevailing poverty levels and the high tuition fees, it was impossible for the majority of parents to afford the cost of university education.
“It is evident that the country will not attain the Millennium Development Goal on education in this year of Golden Jubilee if we, as a people fail, to sponsor our own children to attain higher education,” Ms Nawakwi said.
Ms Nawakwi said education was the fuel for social and economic advancement and that government had a sacred duty to ensure that education was accessible and affordable to citizens irrespective of their social status.
“I wish to humbly remind you, Your Excellency that, the University of Zambia was founded as an oasis of knowledge, research and excellence to provide expert human resource needed for national development.
‘‘Zambians from all walks of life contributed their money, energy and time to build the University of Zambia and we should never lose sight of the sole purpose of building the University,” she said.
Meanwhile ZCTU general secretary Mwaba has demanded that Education Minister Dr John Phiri must give a ministerial statement over the decision to deny over 4000 University of Zambia first-year students bursaries.
Mr Mwaba said the PF government must rescind its decision of denying bursaries to over 4000 UNZA students if they were to foster social and economic growth in the country.
“The PF manifesto is a pro-poor one and their decision to deny students bursaries is against their party manifesto,” he said.Mr Mwaba said government was playing double standards by claiming they were improving the economy.
“They are actually shooting down the social-economic growth through killing the education sector,” Mr Mwaba said.
Mr Mwaba said the danger of denying the more than 4000 students bursaries was that most would be forced to go to universities which were not credible.
“In the long run, Zambia will end up producing the majority of university graduates with poor education qualities because most private universities are not credible,” he said. As the government is about to deliver the 2015 National Budget, let education be given top priority,” he said.