Abigail Mawonde Herald Reporter
GOVERNMENT is considering weaning off State universities or make them meet a certain percentage of salaries for their staff, The Herald has learnt.
Higher and Tertiary, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister Dr Godfrey Gandawa confirmed the development in an interview recently.
“I can confirm that Government has come up with a proposal to either have State universities meeting a certain percentage of their salaries or to wean them off completely,” he said.
However, the issue is still going to be deliberated in Cabinet.
Some sources claimed that Government intended to implement the measure as early as July.
“As from July, universities will no longer be receiving any funds from Government. Government wants the institutions to stand on their own,” said a source.
Government funds State universities through grants and pays salaries for lecturers.
Analysts say the move, if implemented, was likely to cause an increase in fees with universities passing on the burden to students.
Mr Joseph Sagwati said the move was imprudent.
“It is an ill-advised move as universities are already poor. It will be difficult for them to sustain a wage bill for lecturers’ salaries as well as administration staff,” he said.
“In the event that they consider adopting this policy, it will compel universities to increase fees, which will affect many parents.”
Mr Brains Muchemwa said the decision would literally close the door on most rural students.
“The move, in as much as it is going to conserve cash for the Government, is very unfortunate from the perspective that it is going to make university education a privilege and a preserve for the very few elite at a time when most households are facing challenges due to the high unemployment rate,” he said.
“It is important for policy makers to understand that they themselves are beneficiaries of a free university education system without which — because some were raised in very poor families — they would not be sitting in the very public offices that allow them to make such retrogressive decisions.”
Mr Muchemwa urged the Government to focus on meeting fiscal savings from parastatals where money was being misappropriated and subsidise the education sector.