ALEX NJOVU, Lusaka
COPPERBELT University (CBU) has with immediate effect been closed indefinitely, Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education Michael Kaingu has said.
And Government has revoked the appointment of Mwiya Songolo to the CBU council with immediate effect.
Dr Kaingu, however, said the closure of CBU does not affect the schools of medicine and graduate studies.
The minister said this at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday.
â€œAll students are given 24 hours to vacate the premises with effect from 13:00 hours today (yesterday). The graduation ceremony, which is scheduled for July 23 and July 24, 2015, will take place as planned,â€ he said.
Dr Kaingu urged CBU management and the council to work towards resolving the issues which have constrained normal operations of the institution.
â€œI have instructed the council to work closely with officials from my ministry and their counterparts in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security towards ensuring that agreements entered into between managements and unions in our higher education institutions are respected,â€ Dr Kaingu said.
The minister said Government is disappointed that the Copperbelt University Academic Union (CBUAU) refused to dialogue with Government on the matter.
â€œI wish to express our sincere regret to parents, guardians and sponsors of students at the CBU for this break in the academic programme. This action has not been taken lightly. The chancellor, the council and the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education have all worked diligently towards the restoration of the academic life of the university while addressing the problems expressed by the union,â€ he said.
â€œI wish to assure the students that we shall seek to make this closure as short as possible,â€ he said.
Dr Kaingu said it is sad that the union has spurned all requests and opportunities for dialogue and that it has continued with its illegal strike.
He said Government is determined to ensuring that the academic and administrative functions of CBU are restored so that the institution can deliver on its mandate of providing qualified human resources for the development of the country.
â€œThis should be a normal feature of an academic institution, in contrast to illegal withdrawal of services and the holding of students as hostage. We need to move forward and to seek solutions to our many problems in a spirit of cooperation,â€ he said.
Dr Kaingu said threats, intimidation and illegal withdrawal of services should not be part of â€œour toolsâ€.
â€œThe actions of the union have been characterised by the disregard of the office of the minister, through the release of the contents of their letter to the minister, barely hours after delivery of the letter.
â€œLet us work together and ensure that the Copperbelt University grows into a centre of academic and intellectual excellence, devoid of intransigence, one-track mindedness and trench warfare,â€ Dr Kaingu said.
ALEX NJOVU, Lusaka