ZAMBIA has no textbook policy as a proposal drafted in 2008 is still under Government examination, University of Zambia (UNZA) Vice Chancellor Enala Mwase told the Parliamentary Committee on Education yesterday.
“At present, there is no textbook policy in Zambia. A proposal for a specific policy for the textbook sector was drafted sometime in 2008 and is still under examination by the Government,” Professor Mwase said.
She also said the textbook publishing department of the University of Zambia (UNZA) was financially vulnerable because of Government’s insufficient funding to the institution.
Prof. Mwase said money realised from the UNZA press was being used to pay huge sums of money that management owed its staff.
Prof Mwase said publishing textbooks was currently not commercially viable at the highest learning institution because of the high cost of production.
Presenting her memorandum before the Committee on Education, Science and Technology, Prof Mwase said there was need for a deliberate Government policy that would empower local publishers by allowing local tendering.
She said Government’s efforts in the publishing of textbooks should be concentrated on promoting the works of local literacy writers inside the country.
Prof Mwase said policies should be put in place to deal with the bottlenecks in the publishing and printing sector, particularly in the case of educational books.
On the challenges, Prof Mwase said the publishing sector in Zambia was almost non-existent principally because books were published on easy and commercially oriented subjects with a goal of earning a profit.
And Prof Mwase said UNZA management was still owing members of staff huge sums of money because Government funding was insufficient to cater for the lecturers’ wage bill.
But committee member Kennedy Hamudulu wondered how Government would manage operating various public universities which were currently being constructed in most parts of the country.
Mr Hamudulu said it appeared that the Ministry of General Education was having difficulties in funding the three major public universities following complaints of delayed payment of wages.
“We are struggling with UNZA yet more public universities are being constructed…in your own view why should we have more universities?” Mr Hamudulu said.
And in her response, Prof Mwase said she also did not understand why Government had embarked on the construction of more public universities when managing the already existing ones was a challenge.