MARTIN NKOLOMBA, Lusaka
EDUCATION is one of the sectors that have immensely benefitted from investment in infrastructure in Zambia. Learning institutions across the length and breadth of the country have either been built or expanded.
Many Zambians, if not all of them, have, as a matter of fact, found this pleasant and gratifying looking at the enormity of the socio-economic benefits it would bring to the country, both short-term and long-term.
While Government has enviably scored in increasing access to rudimentary education, it would be unfair to pay a blind eye to what the social institution has achieved in expanding tertiary education.
Government has pumped millions of dollars into building universities such as Robert Makasa University and Paul Mushindo University.
To give credence to its resolve to enlighten its citizens, Government has provided unprecedented leadership in encouraging private-sector investment in tertiary education.
Private institutions of higher learning, examples of which abound, Lusaka University and Apex University, for example, seem to be flourishing in their mission of training graduates for Zambia and the rest of the world owing to the conducive environment they are operating in.
Nonetheless, something spectacular is going on at the National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA).
While majority of public multiversities and colleges in Zambia have heavily relied on Government for financing of infrastructure development, the institute is in the vanguard investing millions of Kwacha from its own coffers in that regard.
Presently, NIPA has some of the most beautiful academic edifices around the country and most likely Southern Africa. In the last decade or so, the institution has successfully seen jaw-dropping infrastructure upgrading. No wonder, it is offering degrees.
NIPA has enlarged classroom space by constructing a modern complex that can appeal to any student. This project, completed in 2006, cost K10 million, the bulk of which was met by the institute.
Of particular importance, however, is the institute’s building of a state-of-the-art information and conference centre at a cost of K34 million.
Speaking at the commissioning of the facility recently, Vice-President Inonge Wina commended NIPA for coming up with such a humongous and excellent facility with a library that can take up to 800 users at a time, video conferencing facilities and a computer laboratory, among others.
“The challenges of infrastructure development for all public institutions cannot be met by Government alone. Therefore, I am glad that NIPA had the foresight to commit its own resources to build this magnificent infrastructure…..
This represents initiative and innovation in your endeavour to enhance service delivery to the people of Zambia,” Ms Wina said.
The Vice-President commended the NIPA governing council, its management and staff “for responding timely to the growing national demand by providing the necessary quality services in the areas of training, research and consultancy.
The institute provided 95 percent of the resources that went into the construction of the information and conference centre.
The strides that NIPA is making in providing internationally competitive higher learning are nothing but encouraging.
A look at many institutions country-wide would definitely command much respect to the institute for embarking on such a daunting task amidst serious other operational demands.
As the Vice-President put it, Government can no longer finance all infrastructure at public institutions seeing that it has become more and more difficult for it to do so in the face of diverse priorities and economic challenges.
NIPA has proven over the years that it is not only a robust institution of higher learning but also an enviable institute in the area of research and consultancy.
Students at NIPA should be happy, as they have one of the best environments for both intellectual and professional development, what with the multi-million information and conference centre and the institution’s modern classroom complex commissioned by former President Levy Mwanawasa in 2006.
Against that strategic planning background, NIPA has evolved into a greater force to reckon with in the provision of quality education, research and consultancy in Zambia and the southern African region. The institution boasts of training all categories of government workers, senior and junior, a mandate it has effectively discharged since inception in 1963. It has gone further to even train public sector workers from the region.
That unequivocally explains why the National Institute of Governance is at NIPA. Currently, the institution is offering a number of degrees in different fields like public administration, business administration, law, public relations and computer science.
Its visionary leadership has deservedly resulted in high enrolments and high numbers of prospective students countrywide.
Age-old wisdom teaches that it is easier to help people who help themselves or show initiative. Similarly, NIPA governing council chairman Mwindaace Siamwiza called on Government to consider helping the institute’s accommodation problem.
“One of the most pressing challenges the institute faces is inadequate accommodation for students.
We would be most grateful if the gesture shown to the University of Zambia and Evelyn Hone College of expanding student accommodation could be extended to NIPA.
This would not only go a long way in improving the institute’s financial standing but also afford many young people of Zambia in far-flung areas an opportunity to obtain training at NIPA,” Professor Siamwiza said.
NIPA executive director Royson Mukwena said his institution’s vigourous and strategic initiative to expand its infrastructure was sparked by its overwhelmingly rising enrolments, a testimony to the quality of teaching and strong brand the learning institution has earned itself over the years.
“The student population of NIPA grew from 600 in 2000 to 10,126 in 2015. This created the need for infrastructure development to meet rising demand for the institute’s services,” Professor Mukwena said.
With ever-increasing demand for its training, research and consultancy services in the country and its steel determination to provide corresponding infrastructure, NIPA is making giant strides towards realisation of its vision, which is to be one of the leading providers of high quality professional business and management training, research and consultancy services in southern Africa.