Editor's Comment

The future belongs to innovators

OVER the past few years, Zambia has witnessed a proliferation of high institutions of learning, especially private universities, to answer to the growing demand for knowledge.
And the number of people – both in industry and young high-school graduates – seeking to acquire knowledge in universities and colleges can only be likened to a revolution.
While the credibility of some of these institutions and the quality of the graduates they produce are questionable, we need to acknowledge and appreciate the fact that generally the knowledge gap is narrowing.
This is highly commendable, especially that we now live in an information age.
But acquiring knowledge in itself is not the be-all and end-all of life. There is much more. Acquired knowledge must be applied to the benefit of humanity – to provide solutions to problems our nation is facing today; to create a better future tomorrow.
There is a Guinean proverb about knowledge which says:
“Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand.”
And wisdom, some say, is the application of knowledge.
We, therefore, cannot agree more with Zambian Open University Chancellor Francis Yamba, who last Friday urged graduating students to be innovative and transform their communities by introducing ventures that will bring development.
Professor Yamba urged the graduating students to be part of the solutions to the challenges the world is facing such as unemployment, abject and pervasive poverty and social injustice.
He advised the 1,034 graduating students to commit themselves to a journey of excellence by pushing themselves to greatness.
And true greatness in this world awaits those who will be the answers to the world’s problems.
Hence, universities must churn out graduates who will change the world.
It is also undeniable that the rate at which we are churning out graduates from our universities does not match the number of jobs we are creating as a country.
The challenge, therefore, is to all students who graduate from these universities to become creators of jobs through innovation.
And universities and colleges must ensure that they teach students entrepreneurial skills, and help their future graduates to become creators of employment rather than to wait to be employed.
This is crucial, or else we will end up with a huge number of unemployable graduates and a large population of educated poor.
We recall what Robert Mugabe, the former President of Zimbabwe who died last week, and who placed a high premium on education, said about education:
“How do you convince the upcoming generation that education is the key to success when they are surrounded by poor graduates and rich criminals?”
There is need for universities and colleges to tailor some studies to directly respond to the challenges that we face as a country today, including the now much-talked-about climate change and energy crisis.
After all, the innovations that we see today were presented as challenges – insurmountable to some – many years ago.
The world is waiting for solutions, and in the end, each of the graduating students will be judged, not by the size of their new bank account, number of air miles, or the size of their personal-to-holder vehicle, but by the number of lives they save.

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