CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe
THE construction of new schools and upgrading of basic schools into secondary schools countrywide has called for training of more teachers.
Among the measures the government has taken to train more secondary school teachers is the upgrading of Nkrumah College of Education in Kabwe into a university.
As a university, the teachersâ€™ training institution which now offers a four-year Bachelor of Education Degree programme on full time and distance learning, was opened in 1967 as Kabwe Teachersâ€™ Training College to train junior secondary school teachers.
In 1971, then President Kenneth Kaunda re-named the college into Nkrumah Teachersâ€™ College in honour of Ghanaâ€™s founding President Kwame Nkrumah.
The transformation of the teachersâ€™ training college into a university started during the MMD administration under late President Levy Mwanawasa and the Patriotic Front (PF) government concluded the process.
Kwame Nkrumah University, whose motto is â€˜Teaching for Excellenceâ€™, was established as a public higher education institution in accordance with Part IV, Section 14 of the Higher Education Act No. 4 of 2013.
The university, which started with 600 students, has now grown with the capacity to enrol 6,000 students who are tutored by 74 lecturers.
The government has spent K57,518,410 on infrastructure development at the university and Hua Jiang Investment Limited, a Chinese construction firm, is undertaking the project which started in 2011.
The company is constructing a two-storey library, two lecture blocks with eight classrooms, one lecture theatre and four hostels which will each accommodate 600 students.
Kwame Nkrumah University acting vice chancellor Rachel Kabeta says construction of new infrastructure at the institution has reached an advanced stage.
â€œItâ€™s [Kwame Nkrumah University] an emerging university and we really appreciate the efforts of the government because the moment the college was turned into a university, the government started to build new infrastructure,â€ Dr Kabeta says.
She says the lecture theatre and library will each have the sitting capacity of 500 people when completed.
The construction project was supposed to have been executed within three years but construction works have delayed due to erratic funding.
â€œBut since last year, we have seen an improvement in funding,â€ Dr Kabeta says.
Government has on several occasions stated that it is making milestone strides in expanding infrastructure at public tertiary learning institutions in the country to create a conducive learning environment for students.
Vice President Inonge Wina says the upgrading of Nkrumah College of Education into a university and the construction of additional structures is meant to address the shortage of vital infrastructure at the teachersâ€™ training institution.
Mrs Wina notes that for a long time, students at public universities and colleges have been subjected to learning and living in a poor environment, a situation that negatively affected their education.
â€œAt Evelyn Hone College, we are expanding accommodation and at Mulungushi University there is also expansion of hostels so that our students can stay in a conducive environment,â€ Mrs Wina said when she visited Kwame Nkrumah University.
Due to the shortage of vital infrastructure at tertiary learning institutions, the government is constructing new buildings while upgrading old ones to improve the learning environment.
The infrastructure expansion programme in the education sector also includes construction of secondary schools because government wants pupils to learn in a conducive environment as they prepare to enter universities and colleges.
â€œBy promoting tertiary education, we hope the young people in Zambia will be able to acquire skills to enable them contribute effectively to the development of their country,â€ Mrs Wina said.
The policy of the PF government in planning for construction projects at learning institutions is to include houses for the teachers and lecturers.
â€œThis is the way forward for the education sector and this way, we motivate our lecturers and teachers and we will do this at all schools from primary to university level,â€ Mrs Wina said.
The Vice President also commended Hua Jiang Investment Limited for the quality construction works it is carrying out at Kwame Nkrumah University.
And under phase two, the government has allocated K46,361, 132 for the construction of four hostels, lecture rooms, four science laboratories and 10 staff houses.
The hostels under construction are adjacent to the old ones.
â€œOn top of the projects that are being completed in phase one, the government has pumped in K46 million in phase two,â€ Dr Kabeta, the university acting vice chancellor, says.
Government has also given Kwame Nkrumah University the former Pan African Institute of Development-East and Southern Africa (PAID-ESA) as additional infrastructure at the new university.
The former PAID-ESA has classrooms, student hostels, libraries, a dining hall and kitchen.
The university is expected to enrol 17,000 students when construction of all additional infrastructure is completed and will offer 14 degree programmes in social sciences.
Dr Kabeta also notes that the additional infrastructure will enhance the status of Kwame Nkrumah University and facilitate provision of quality university education in the country.
CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe