THOSE who have been through the University of Zambia will agree that half of the students, if not more, come from poor families and finding money is a huge challenge.
That is why most of them rely on government bursary for their upkeep on campus.
Therefore, the decision by UNZA management to allow students who are owing tuition fees to write examinations is commendable.
We could not imagine a situation where over 8,000 students were going to miss examinations on account of failing to pay tuition fees.
Management’s decision to allow defaulting students to sit for examinations is a good gesture because students have come a long way, and for them to be owing the institution it means they have tried but the going is just tough.
UNZA was not going to benefit in any way from barring the students from writing apart from piling more misery on the poor students.
The decision to allow students to sit for exams is a win-win situation for both parties.
The students will be happy and eventually the institution will be paid its dues.
After all, UNZA management will withhold results until the students have settled their dues.
We are aware that K58 million that students are owing in unpaid tuition fees is a lot of money.
The university needs that money to run its programmes.
However, the fact that over 8,000 students are owing the institution is evidence that things are tough.
We commend the University of Zambia Students’ Union (UNZASU) leadership for the initiative to dialogue with UNZA management over the matter. This is the way to go.
Zambia is a democracy and students should always utilise their freedoms to be heard.
In the past, UNZASU would have probably incited its members to protest, and experience has shown us that such protests have ended up being violent.
In the end, it is innocent citizens, especially motorists who drive along the Great East Road and Kamloops, who have ended up being victims of internal matters at the university.
This in most instances culminated into the closure of the university and disruption of the academic calendar.
We urge the students to take advantage of the gesture by UNZA management by concentrating on their studies.
Zambia is in a hurry to develop and is in need of qualified manpower.
The bursary board should develop and implement a robust loan system to ensure that students pay back after starting work in future.
Students are part of the nation’s intellectual capital which should be harnessed to fulfil the country’s developmental needs.