This week I will look at the educational system in Zambia and rekindle memories of school days in yesteryears. I will add some pieces on social Zambia and political events that shaped the country. Join me in a Fuso Canter as we ride down memory lane listening to Albert Hammond’s Free Electric Band.
1. In 1965, Standards were changed to Grades and primary education was cut down to seven years instead of the previous eight years.
2. At secondary school level, with the opening of the University of Zambia (UNZA) the higher school Certificate (form six) was abolished.
3. We called dull pupils ifikopo-empty tins. Teachers used to classify pupils according to ‘intelligence’ usually based on class tests. There were three groups-1,2 and 3. To be in group 3 was embarrassing. This system hails down to Victorian England and was used in British schools when ‘dull’ pupils were made to wear dunce caps.
4. At Independence Zambia had only 107 university graduates and 1,000 others who had gone up to School Certificate level . Some books put the number of university graduates at 101. I will settle for 107, considering the credibility of the sources I consulted. The total school enrolment in 1964 was about 13,853 pupils. The UNIP government embarked on an ambitious programme to build more schools countrywide.Each district had a secondary school by 1966 under the First National Developmental Plan (FNDP). UNIP also abolished school fees in secondary schools. The government also increased secondary school enrolments.
5. The educational system as at 1964 was four years of lower primary from Sub-A, Sub-B, Standard One and Standard Two. To qualify to upper level ( Standard three, Four, Five and Six), one had to sit for an examination. Even when the system was changed to grades, examinations at primary level ( grade four) to upper level ( grade five, six and seven ) were mantained up to the late 70’s. I remember sitting for examinations in grade four to qualify to upper level. I feel sad that a number of my friends failed to make it to grade five.
6.Up to the 70’s, Zambia had very few secondary schools. Many were boarding schools which charged both boarding and tuition fees. It was prestigious to qualify to secondary schools. Secondary pupils were some sort of celebrities in their communities and usually dated fellow secondary school pupils. A sexually suggestive popular Sinjonjo song of the day -Abakashana Bapa Miller confirms this fact. The song in ci-Bemba was popular in the 60’s and early 70’s had lines like : Abakashana bapa Miller Mayo balapengula/ Ngabamona ba Secondary mayo balapengula/Chipengu pengu chipengu pengu mayo balapengula. The girls of Miller open up When they see secondary pupils, they open up Opening up Opening up Oh they open up. Miller was the old name for Kasama Girls Secondary School. It was named after the first head mistress Elizabeth Miller, one of the pioneers of girl education in Zambia.Seconcary pupils in the early 70’s were really full of airs and pretended to be sophiscated. They listened to Rock music and popular western music of the day.
7.During the colonial era, schools had been segregated by race. White children went to separate schools where they followed a different syllabus from that of African children. For example a white child in Lusaka would be enrolled at Lusaka Boys School and proceed to Kabulonga School. A child of mixed race then called Coloureds would go to Prince Phillip (Now Kamwala) and an African child would be at Regiment School and end up at Munali or a mission-run boarding schools strewn around the country. After independence, all white schools started enrolling African pupils.
8. Zambia had no university at independence. The university was built in 1966 with the main campus on the Great East Road. The other campus specialising in medical training is at Ridgeway near the University Teaching Hospital. Later on, UNZA opened another campus on the Copperbelt. This was called University of Zambia in Ndola, or UNZANDO despite being housed in Kitwe. :Later UNZANDO became the country’s second university called Copperbelt University-CBU. Zambia now has several private universities offering degrees. Some are quality degrees while others are second rate.
9. As pupils in primary or secondary schools we were told usually by UNZA graduates that Kaunda’s degrees were ‘honourary’ we did not understand what that meant till later. UNIP leaders told us we were all future leaders despite our callings. Many UNZA students and graduates wrongly believed they were better than UNIP leaders. Some UNZA graduates bloated with pseudo-intellectual excitement refused to sing the National anthem and condemned almost all government policies. Many like former UNZASU chairman Ben Chilufya were later incorporated into the system they had been condemning. Long after he had left the university,Chilufya wrote an emotional letter in the Times of Zambia apologising to UNIP and Kaunda for his involvement in student politics.UNZA was infiltrated by shushushus-government informers who never graduated but participated in riots to identify the rabble rousers. The university would be closed on several ocassions forcing students to spend more years for courses that took fewer years to finish.
10. Kaunda wrote several books like Zambia Shall Be Free, Letters To My Children and A Humanist In Africa. Some people especially his enemies said that he did not actually write the latter books which they said were ghost-written.
11. It was also believed that Kaunda used academics to expound his Humanism philosophies. The names of intellectuals ‘used’ included Alexander Kwibisa, Timothy Kandeke and several UNZA dons.
12. The university of Zambia had several publications in which students explored Marxism and several textbook political ideas the bulk of it juvenile and cheap. The publications were printed on cheap paper and circulated on campus. However, this is not to say all student politics was unfounded. Sometimes students raised serious political issues and offered an alternative opposition together with the Church newspaper-The National Mirror during a the One-Party state.
13. Kaunda’s birthdays were national events. Different companies like Kafironda Explosives,the mines, ZCBC,hospitals and shops would wish the president ‘Happy Birthday’ through supplements published in the daily newspapers.
14. Kaunda introduced the David Universal Temple that expounded principals of oriental religions like transdental meditation, heaven on earth,humanism and reincarnation. Kaunda even had a spiritual adviser Dr Ranganathan.
15. Using the word ‘President’ was unofficially outlawed with other titles like ‘chairman’ favoured by the government. The title ‘President’ was only reserved for the Republican President Dr Kenneth Kaunda./ End…
Last week’s question What was the nickname of Ackim Musenge
a) Master dribbler
Answer a) Master dribbler
This week’s question: Which religious group had children of it’s members deregistered from schools for not singing the National anthem in the 70’s
a) Roman Catholics
b) Seventh Day Adventists
c) Jehovah Witnesses.