By Kombe Mataka
UNIVERSITY of Zambia Students Union (UNZASU) has warned the School of Law to rescind its decision to exclude 300 students from full time learning for failing to clear all their courses.
And University of Zambia vice-chancellor Professor Luke Mumba said the decision by the School of Law to exclude students is a serious disciplinary matter.
UNZASU president Gabriel Banda warned that the School of Law should not incite students against the school management.
“I will be leading a delegation. We are having an emergency meeting with University of Zambia Registrar about the matter. We want to discuss matters regarding management of the school of law.
As a union we are disappointed with the School of Law because our understanding is everyone including the university of management must sympathise with the students because the previous two years were not easy for the entire world,” he said. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and associates challenges, the students’ union as you are aware presented to Senate that the challenges which students were facing when the pandemic was at its peak.
Including the upcoming of online learning that some lecturers were just dumping course materials and teaching and that was evident with the school of law, natural sciences and engineering. So these are the issues UNZASU presented in Senate attendant to the plight of students.
Senate resolved to allow supplementary exam for first time across all the 13 schools of the university. This has never happened. Senate waived their rules and said they would allow students to proceed and repeat regardless of the school.”
Banda said insistence by the school of law that they would exclude students because there was over enrollment was unacceptable.
They also resolved that students that passed 70 per cent of courses proceed because of the challenges students faced when they lost sponsorship.
According to Senate rules and Loans Scholarship (Higher Education Loans and Students Scholarship Boards), when a student is sent on part time, they lose scholarship.
“You pay per course. Full course is about K6,000. A half course is K3,226. Registration is K1,350. So if a student failed two courses that would be K12,000 plus registration fees,” said Banda. “So Senate said because of these challenges they would sympathise with us. All schools were agreeable except the school of law.
They said we ‘we can’t allow to proceed and repeat’. [But] if you get on the ground, [School of Law lecturers] they are the ones who are teaching at private universities. There they are passing but our students at UNZA are failing. That is why you saw their acting dean (Dr Lungowe Matakala) as well as assistant dean (James Kayula) resigning because the employer of lecturers is the [University] Council.
So they have resigned from their management roles. They have consistently defied Senate’s rules. We are warning that the the School not to incite us. As students we stand with Senate. We want people to understand why they are there, to train and not to fail students.”
And, in a separate interview, Prof Mumba said he was aware about the resignation of the two lectures from their administrative positions.
He said the lectures had their reasons for resigning adding that relevant replacements would be done.
“The University of Zambia has over 13 schools. Senate met and made a resolution, so all the schools are in total agreement with the Senate resolution so those that have decided to resign should explain why they have done so,” said Prof Mumba. “What will happen is very soon, we will look into this matter.
There are so many members of staff in the school who are just as qualified. We are not short of members of staff. When we do things in the university, we do things by consensus. We discuss and agree so those who are defeated should go along with the majority and accept. We are not here to punish students.
There have been challenges this year and out role is to respond to appeals by our students. Even in America and the UK, students are being given amnesty because online learning is not perfect. We have to take the interest of our students first.”