Prof Lungwangwa backs publishers


ZAMBIAN publishers are justified and correct in challenging the manner in which the selection and publication of textbooks by the Ministry of Education has been done.

Former Education minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa said the centralizetion procurement of the exercise was wrong.

But the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has said they cannot investigate the corruption allegation by the Zambian publishers because they have not received a written complaint against some Ministry of Education officials involved in the procurement of educational material.

ACC public relations manager Timothy Moono said the Zambian publishers were welcome to lodge a complaint to the Commission.

He said the complainants should bring the matter by writing to the ACC.

Professor Lungwangwa said the choice of educational materials for schools was the responsibility of District Education Secretary (DEBS) and not the ministry whose role was to administer Government policy and not to interfere in the day-to-day running of schools.

He was commenting on the controversy between the Ministry of Education and Zambian publishers who have been left out from a lucrative Government tender to provide educational materials in Zambian schools.

The ministry has not only centralized but has now contracted foreign owned firms to develop and publish the textbooks.

Prof Lungwangwa said it was disappointing that the ministry wanted to adopt the centralization policy in the procurement of educational material which he said would adversely affect the education system in the country.

“Should the Ministry of Education centralize its operational system then there would be no need of having District Education Board Secretary (DEBS) offices in the districts.

“Initially the procurement of tenders for educational materials was done with the help of the DEBS offices in the districts who were able to choose and identify the type of material they wanted in their respective districts, and the centre (ministry) will only provide payments,” he said.

He said if the ministry wanted everything to be centered at the ministry it meant there was a problem that would eventually result into ineffectiveness in the operation.

Prof Lungwangwa said he was of the view that the complaints by the Zambian publishers were justifiable and based on the interest of the nation.

He said centralizing the operation of the ministry would be a recipe for ineffectiveness in the education sector that would result into poor quality.

Prof Lungwangwa urged the Ministry of Education to revisit its policies to provide quality education in the country.

He said the present Government should appreciate “a few efforts” that were left by past governments to improve the education sector.

Zambian publishers have complained that the new system the ministry was using to award the tender for the procurement of educational materials was not favourable, and disadvantaged the local publishers.

The publishers have challenged the Ministry of Education and Anti-Corruption Commission to call for an urgent meeting to enable them to prove the corruption allegations in the ministry.

It is alleged that some technical staff at the Ministry of Education are conniving with some foreign educational book publishers so that they could personally benefit.

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