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RUTH Mubanga.

Mindset shift make-or-break factor for Zambia

ZAMBIA has huge and precious, often underutilised, assets that are critically important to attain Vision 2030 envisaged to transform Zambia into a prosperous middle-income nation by that year.
Chief among these assets are the diverse and relevant high education skills that are churned out into the economy by both public and private providers of university education.
So my counsel to the more than 350 graduates who were recently conferred with diplomas, bachelors, masters and doctor of philosophy degrees at the 6th graduation of the University of Africa was to awaken in them to fully utilise their skills.
Acknowledging the contribution high education contributes to the necessary human capital required to catapult Zambia to middle-income status, I belaboured the theme ‘Uphold an education that brings about social, cultural and economic development in our nation’.
At the heart of translating into action is for graduates to have the courage to keep pursuing what might seem as the impossible dream.
In this regard, I commend the significant number of women who were among the fresh graduates of our university. They have demonstrated the ability to break almost all the hurdles that leave most women behind with higher education. The hurdles include age, marital status, income, time and other factors such as existing traditional patriarchal attitudes that left girls and women behind in education.
Contemporary scholars say open distance learning (ODL) can help to significantly ramp up the number of women with higher education qualifications. They also argue this had huge potential to bolster the sequential link with sustainable development resulting from the promotion of ODL.
On the expectations graduates need to contribute towards propelling Zambia to prosperous middle-income nation, it is unfortunate that a significant number of them still agonised over finding employment instead of creating jobs for themselves and others.
While commendably both female and male graduates had come a long way, evidence on the ground clamours for a shift in our belief systems or mindset. That shift will make or break the aspirations of the nation.
Therefore, transformative education advocated by our university is aimed at continually challenging our students and graduates to shape their belief system in a way that will result in them contributing positively to the development of Zambia.
If as a people we believe there is a government that will do everything for us; that it will pick all trash that we carelessly dispose of, then we shall not take care of our environment.
It is being short-sighted to resolve that the government will solely provide us with innovations and employment without applying ourselves.
More sadly is if we hold a belief that we are poor and there is nothing we can do, then we shall wallow in poverty and resign to that fact.
What then does it mean to uphold a transformative education and indeed what is a transformative education? The word transformative essentially implies that a being or thing changes from one form to a completely different one through a process and over time.
To synthesise, the key observable attributes of transformation education are disruptive thinking, collaborative problem-solving and ability to work in a diverse and ever-changing environment.
These attributes bring about bold courageous actions that are key to unlock growth performance potential of the nation.
When people like Bill Gates, late Steve Job, Mark Zuckerberg and others decided on their inventions, they looked well beyond the normal experience of the world, including flying in the face of huge obstacles. Clearly, not a portion for the faint-hearted.
Embracing transformative education disrupts your psychology values and behavioural make-up.
First, we ought to come to terms with changes in understanding self as well as understanding others.
Second, we live in a society that is influenced and affected by changes that occur beyond our borders. Therefore, it is important to make connections to produce an unbreakable link of actions that lead to faster and better performance.
Closely linked to this are our behavioural patterns. Our lifestyle is mirrored against our belief system. If we are going to embrace change, we ought to embrace the fact that change is constant.
Those who succeed demonstrate keen interest in obtaining new skills needed to meet the challenges of constant change.
Drawing on the experience of pioneers who stake a claim in creating a ‘new world’, transformative education is really a necessity to create and preserve job opportunities for graduates and needs of the society they operate in.
Therefore, I’m urging the new graduates to find comfort in unfamiliar circumstances. Unfamiliar territory must be your playground to create sustained opportunities.
The author is chancellor of the University of Africa.