Analysis: PATRICK KALIFUNGWA
ONE of the greatest achievements of the concept of human development since its articulation in 1990 is that it has succeeded in re-orienting the analysis of development towards the main dimensions of choices made by human beings; that is, the expansion of their
capacity to live increasingly long, materially and spiritually enriching lives.
The differences between nations, in terms of development, are shown not only in what each country produces, but in what each of them does with the resources generated through the productive process, resources of which Zambia has in abundance.
Thus, investment in education becomes an integral part of development. Education is an important dimension of human development, and plays a determinant role in expanding the many choices that people make. Indeed, out of theoretically unlimited choices, knowledge in its various forms plays the most determinant role in strengthening the other dimensions of human development.
Africa’s population has risen considerably in the last 30 years and according to United Nations forecasts, it will rise to two billion, or nearly one third of the world’s population by 2050,
Bearing in mind that the youth constitutes 60 percent of the current Africa’s population of nearly one billion people, one of the unavoidable implications of this is the need to undertake education investment through the youth. This is not only morally and ethically right but it also makes economic and psychological sense.
To develop authentically autonomous and independent-thinking individuals is the main objective of education. As the former director-general of UNESCO, Frederico Mayor, said: “Nowadays one cannot reconcile education with docility or submission.”
On the contrary, education should forge the character and intellect of human beings, endowing them with sufficient autonomy so that they can reason and decide with the greatest possible freedom, and thus attain personal sovereignty, the most important of sovereignties.
Education investment yields virtuous circles of dividends, not vicious cascades of hopelessness and desperation. Education expands the horizon of knowledge and for tides we all have the duty to be part of the investment. This type of investment will contribute to the wealth and prosperity of the generations to come.
The potential is tremendous; the task is stupendous; and the time is propitious to proceed further on this journey called human development.
It has been observed that higher education is a cornerstone for sustainability of development. It creates new knowledge, teaches specific skills and promotes core values like freedom, tolerance and dignity.
A defining characteristic of most higher education systems is the large disparities in access and competition, especially by income and wealth. In the absence of policies and programmes to support qualified students from disadvantaged backgrounds, efforts to expand higher education systems risk widening these gaps.
LIUTEBM University supports over 40 students on part and full sponsorship to assist those that are disadvantaged and require the assistance. To make higher education a catalyst for the creation of sustainable, innovative and equitable societies, governments and universities, both public and private, have to develop policies to make education affordable, accessible and inclusive (UNESCO policy paper 36, April 2017).
The aspirations of sustainable development need to solve common problems and tensions and to recognise new horizons.
Economic growth and the creation of wealth have reduced global poverty rates but vulnerability, inequality, exclusion and violence have increased within and across societies throughout the world.
We are proud as LIUTEBM to produce a first female graduate to be called to the Bar after completion.
Our universities must develop multi-skilled and multi-tasked educated persons who will subscribe to’ advancing of their careers through research, within the overall terrain of comprehensive transformation of Zambia.
The only way to the future is for the government to engage the private sector and willing individuals and organisations in partnerships to finance higher education.
The high level policy forum of the African Union stressed that meeting the Sustainable Development Goals requires real investment and innovation in higher education.
Business as usual will not produce the breakthroughs in social and economic development the world needs.
Innovation in how we deliver education as well as what that education is focused upon is needed for all of our futures (African Union conference 2016).
I agree with the World Bank report of 2015, which states that African countries will reap substantial socio-economic benefits from increased investments in improving higher education and developing strong curriculums for a knowledge-based economy (World Bank, 2015).
A commitment to improving private higher education will give the next generation of leaders an opportunity to create a better future for themselves, their community and the country.
Private universities should take responsibility for quality enhancement in education; both at the institutional and systems levels. There are enormous challenges facing higher education sector in the realisation of the goals of higher education such as:
• The need to expand access, improve quality, ensure equity, provide massive access to tertiary education;
• Direct serious attention to innovation and creativity;
• Rejuvenate the obsolete curricula in higher education;
• Replace the old dilapidated infrastructure and build new facilities and inject huge funds.
We must abandon analogue thinking and activities in the 21st century of digital development. Unfortunately, even among the academic group, many still operate in the analogue environment when our students have transformed themselves into a digital ecosystem. It appears that in the 21st century, everything must have sustainability in it. It ranges from sustainable development to sustainable economic growth, sustainable communities to sustainable energy production.
Developing a culture of sustainability underlines the importance of balancing economic efficiency, social equity, and environmental accountability. Sustainability is a higher order social goal, a fundamental philosophy of natural or human systems. It can also be conceived as a fundamental principle to guide human conduct with respect to natural systems, especially as taught in our universities.
Economic growth alone is not sufficient to ensure social justice, equity and sustained prosperity for all people.
Private academic community must also pursue transformational agenda that create jobs, develop infrastructure, raise productivity, improve competitiveness, and promote sustainable production.
The author is vice-chancellor at Livingstone International University of Tourism, Excellence and Business Management.