Saturday, January 29, 2011

UNZASEDA (University of Zambia School of Education Association)


The University of Zambia School of Education Association (UNZASEDA) was officially established in 2008. It was an improved version of the University of Zambia Teachers Association (UNZATA) formed by a group of determined students from within the University of Zambia in the School of Education.

The fathers of UNZASEDA include M’zizi Kantini Samson who was also the president of UNZATA in 2007, Mwazi Oscar who was the vice president, Sitwe Benson Mkandawire who was the Secretary General, Mwale Chongo Eric who was the treasurer and Christine Mwanza saving as the publicity secretary.

When the executive of UNZATA wrote to the Dean’s Office of the School of Education suggesting that all students registered in the school of education should automatically become members of UNZATA, the Dean was pleased with this request but he requested that the association must have a blessing from all students in the school. That time, the school was finding ways and means to involve students in most of the school activities and this created a conducive environment for establishing the biggest and strongest association in the history of the University of Zambia.

Two weeks later on 4th November 2007, the Dean School of Education called all students in the school for a meeting to share this news with every student in the school. The meeting was held in NELT in the afternoon and in attendance was the Dean himself, Assistant deans one and two and the Assistant Registrar school of Education plus over 500 students, others were outside the hall due to limited space in NELT.

In this meeting, all students accepted to be members UNZATA but the name of the association had to be changed because it was restricted to teachers alone but we know very well that the school of education does not produce teachers alone but different kinds of professionals in the different available programmes.

After this meeting, UNZATA ceased to exist including its executive and the birth of UNZASEDA was recorded. The school constituted an interim executive constituting all members who were in UNZATA and two people from each one of the eight programmes of the school; i. e. two from; B. A. AED, BED, BALIS, AED, and others. This interim worked very hard until an executive was constituted headed by the same president of UNZATA Kantini Samson. In this interim executive, the former vice president of UNZATA Oscar Mwazi, Treasurer Eric Mwale and the Secretary General Sitwe Benson Mkandawire refused to stand for elections in the interim as they did not want UNZATA executive to take over UNZASEDA again but created reasons of their own for not standing. However, later, they accepted to be in the council where there was less controversial issues and Eric Mwale became the Chairperson of the council of representatives from all programmes. In fact the council that time was in charge of all programmes and UNZASEDA looked at the affairs of the school with the council reporting to them.

The whole lot of this process involved some Lectures and administrators and therefore at the end, UNZASEDA was fathered not by individuals but student masses and lecturers' both professional and unprofessional treatment of the learners under the general turbulent circumstances of the education system in Zambia. The student compact mass constituted those who researched into the sociology, policy and administration of education with special reference to Zambia. There emerged a cadre of young leaders who could connect theory to pratice. Among these, notable names include Imanga Malyande, Sitwe Mkandawire, Eric Mwale, Oscar Mwazi and Samson Kantini.

After a wide university stakeholder consultative process that this cadre had done, its recommendations coincided with a student general assembly that the administration of the School of Education called for. The conveners of this Assembly headed by Wanga Chakanika and others could not hesitate to mention that their offices were open for this noble cause.

Forthwith, departments of the school of education and those which derived 50+1% of their students from the school of education were charged to send student representatives to join what came to be known as the Triple C - Consultive Constitutional Committee (CCC) on the Formation of Student Professional Association. Chaired by a transparent and progressive strategic young thinker, triple C culminated into what is today known as UNZASEDA.

The birth of UNZASEDA was not without opposition from those who felt it was professionally about to once again build rational student activism and introduce student professionalism. But knowledge will always rule over ignorance. The opposition did not succeed. It was consolidated to become the first professional association with a large following in the history of UNZA. From its mandatory membership fees it developed a loan scheme to help students with financial difficulties. It also established and furnished an operating office within the University. For the first time it sent duly elected representatives by the represented to the School of Education board of studies. One of the biggest board that bring together affiliate institutions to the School of Education to deliberate issues of mutual concern with the University through the School of education. The first agenda of UNZASEDA also helped the school of education in collectively tackling the issues surrounding student teaching experience allowances and duration of the experience itself. The success of the Association in professionally facilitating dialogue to solve this problem helped it receive its first round of applause and standing ovation from its critics of the time, fourth years (2008/9).

By the time the first leadership was winding its short but difficult term of office, its strength was deepening and its concerts where well attended that the Ministry of Education offered a place to the Association through and under the facilitation of able School of Education Administration at the 2009 Mulungush Education Symposium.

The stance of UNZASEDA today may not be flourishing as earlier envisioned but surely, they are making good progress. It would only be bad if it starts joining ranks with old university student associations and unions that wait for executive elections and graduation parties. The INITIAL UNZASEDA was competing with UNZASU as they could come to borrow money from UNZASEDA. The situation now may not be clear, the institutional and national agenda of the association may not even be known today by some members including those who may be leading it.

The formalized first UNZASEDA executive included heroes of the freedom fight and civil rights movement including Kantini Samson chairperson, Mwape Sunday vice chairperson, Abigail Mbozi Secretary general, Bertha Masala treasurer, Martha kayuni publicity secretary, and those in the council executive included Benson Mkandawire, Eric Mwale Chongo, Oscar Mwazi, Chanda, Lungu and those whose contributions remain visible by the monumental existence of UNZASEDA.

UNZASEDA I know can make a difference at every level. It can still bridge that gap between students and management as they spearhead professionalism in the country.

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