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Bursaries reform on

Suicide of would-be UNZA student prompts re-think
STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT says the suicide of 19-year-old would-be University of Zambia (UNZA) student Musankwa Makwambwa is a wake-up call on the financial predicament that vulnerable students find themselves in on funding their studies.
Musankwa committed suicide on Tuesday after she learnt that she was not on the list of successful candidates who had been awarded sponsorship by the Bursaries Committee.
Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education John Phiri told Parliament in a ministerial statement that Government will ensure that the Bursaries Committee is transformed into a Loans Board to benefit students.
“Our deepest condolences to the Makwambwa family. The death of a single person is a loss to us as Government,” Dr Phiri said.
The minister appealed to students who have not yet seen their names on the list of those awarded bursaries to remain calm.
Dr Phiri said there were 17,000 applicants for bursaries at UNZA alone.
“There is a degree fever in this country and money allocated was not enough,” Dr Phiri said.
Meanwhile, Musankwa’s suicide generated emotive debate from members of Parliament (MPs) prompting Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mkhondo Lungu to curtail debate in the interest of time.
Several MPs showed continued willingness to debate the matter.
“There is a problem with the Bursaries Committee involving UNZA, which Government needs to deal with in a best manner,” Mr Lungu told Dr Phiri.
“You can see many of us want to debate on this very important and emotive matter. I’m sure this is an issue we cannot exhaust in this session. Already, I have more than 20 people who want to debate,” Mr Lungu said.
He added: “What that means minister, is that there is a problem which Government needs to look at in terms of bursaries at UNZA.”
Mr Lungu said the Bursaries committee should do its best to ensure that only vulnerable students benefit from bursaries
“I hope that we have not given the bursaries to those children whose parents are able to pay. So these are matters you need to look into and like I said, we can debate this matter up to sunset. With that summary, we move on to the next question,” Mr Lungu said
The debate arose from a point of order raised by Choma Central MP Cornelius Mweetwa (UPND), who wanted to know what led to the death of a first-year student at UNZA.




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