CLAUSE 162 of the Constitution that disqualifies candidates without a Grade 12 certificate to stand for elective office is a wake-up call to the Ministry of Education to ensure quality education in the country, says former Education Minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa.
Professor Lungwangwa said there were still a lot of people particularly in rural areas that could not complete their education for one reason or the other including poverty but could do better in terms of leading the community.
He said now that the law had disqualified them, it was important to ensure that the country’s education system was improved so that all the people were catered for should they have opportunities to stand for elective offices.
Prof Lungwangwa, who is MMD member of Parliament for Nalikwanda in Western Province, said it was difficult to find people with Grade 12 qualifications in rural areas now as those who managed to complete their secondary education were in urban areas looking for work or training.
“Most of the councillors representing the people especially in rural areas were not Grade12 certificate holders and therefore with the law in hand Grade 12 will be a big level in society which will also encourage a lot of people to be educated,” he said.
Prof Lungwangwa said it would be difficult for political parties to find Grade 12 candidates to stand for some positions especially at local government level, saying coming up with qualified councillors would be a tall order.
“Rural constituencies will face the challenge and it will take time to find Grade 12 candidates because most of them who might be there will have moved to urban areas to look for greener pastures,” he said.
Prof Lungwangwa said it was vital to build a foundation of education and sustain the policy to ensure quality education was realised to benefit all the citizens countrywide.
According to the newly passed Constitution assented to by President Edgar Lungu on Tuesday, all candidates for elective offices must possess Grade 12 certificates or its equivalent to qualify to stand.
Clause 162 of the Constitution states that a person qualifies to be elected as a councillor or member of Parliament if that person is not less than 19 years of age and has obtained, as minimum academic qualification, a Grade 12 certificate or its equivalent.